RYAN Finnerty is no psychologist.
But the Sheffield player- coach has a plan for new defenceman Nick Duff when he makes his Steelers’ debut tonight.
Steelers take to the ice at Cardiff Devils, which is a notoriously difficult rink to play in at any time, let alone your first attempt at fitting in at a new team, new league and new country.
Player-coach Finnerty’s plan for the 26-year-old is simple. “I’ll just play him and play him,” he said. “If he is nervous I’ll double shift him.
“The more you get out there, the quicker you get rid of nervousness.
“It won’t be a problem. Nick adds a different dimension to us and he’ll be just fine.
“He is young and keen to impress. I love his attitude, when we agreed terms he was 15 hours away from home on a road trip with his existing team, he got up at 6am, walked to the car hire business, rented a car and drove 15 hours to pick up his gear and made his way to the airport. I like that.”
A win in south Wales tonight would set up the possibility of an interesting sequence for the defending champions, who have six games in hand on leaders Belfast Giants, but are nine points adrift.
Sheffield are playing on the back of five consecutive victories.
If they are triumphant at Cardiff, they could steamroller through the next four matches against teams from the lower end of the table (Dundee Stars, Edinburgh Capitals, twice, and Hull Stingrays) before taking on Belfast at home on February 5.
Finnerty said: “When you look at that sequence you are optimistic that you should be able to control the games.
“I don’t want to say they are easy wins, because they are definitely not. There’ll probably be only one goal in those games.
“We have to be focused against all of those teams just as much as we are when we play Nottingham Panthers and Belfast Giants.”
Steelers will be hoping their slightly revised Power Play will be on song tonight.
Finnerty has experimented by using right winger Luke Fulghum on the left point.
“We have tweaked a few things,” he said. “It is something we have worked on, the aim is to get more shots on goal.
“Normally Luke is on the right but he had something like 12 shots last Sunday against Dundee, it went well.”