Andre Payette has admitted that it is crucial Sheffield Steeldogs make their home advantage count when they face Basingstoke Bison in the play-offs this weekend.
Steeldogs will go head-to-head with the EPL runners-up over the course of this weekend in a bid to secure their place in the play-off semi-finals.
Bison will travel to IceSheffield for the first encounter on Saturday (7:30pm) before Payette and his side make the long trip to Hampshire for the second-leg, and Payette, who has been ruled out of the play-offs with a knee injury that he sustained in Steeldogs’ 5-2 defeat at Guildford, has admitted it will be important his side take a victory into their second leg - taking into account that every game this season has been settled by one goal.
“It’s going to be hard fought this weekend and with how the games have gone this season, it may very well end up being decided in over time or by a penalty shoot out,” Payette, the Steeeldogs head coach, told Grass Roots.
“It’s going to be two very similar sides and Dalibor (Sedlar) is going to be a really important player, he is going to be have to be the best player on the ice.
“I always prefer having the home game first and it is important we take advantage of that and get a lead in the home-leg on Saturday, we also need to fill the pound, we really need our fans to be the seventh man.
“Basingstoke is a nasty place to go to and it will be a daunting task, so we need some goals on Saturday. It’s going to be really close over the two games.”
On Monday, Steeldogs held their annual end of season presentation evening and after achieving their objective of reaching the play-offs, Payette insists that everything about the club is growing.
“There have been some huge positives to take away from this season, Korhorn being one of them after he scored his fiftieth goal of the season against Slough.
“We wanted to make the play-offs and we have done that, Shane (Smith, the Steeldogs owner) has a plan in place.
“It isn’t a one-year plan, we are one of the youngest sides in the EPL and we have competed well against the league’s best. Everything is growing and moving in right direction.”
* It has been quite a year for Cam Brownley.
He is a name that Sheffield Steeldogs fans should remember. He’s come in from the cold as an eager 17-year-old after snapping his ankle ligaments last year, and since returning to the ice back in December, he has impressed Andre Payette so much that he offered him a two-year deal with the club earlier this week.
That deal ensured that Brownley became the first player from the newly set-up Steeldogs Academy to earn a contract with the first-team and the club’s latest addition signed his season off last Saturday by scoring his first EPL goal in the 7-3 victory over Slough Jets.
“I was ecstatic, since I was four-years-old I have always wanted to play for Steeldogs,” Brownley told Grass Roots.
“Last season I tore my ligaments and I have to work so hard to recover from that and Andre didn’t see me on the ice until December.
“It’s been a hard journey to get back to where I was and it has been a crazy end to the season, to get my first goal and to sign my first deal, it has been the best experience of my life so far.
“I just want to continue working hard and I want to play at the highest level possible.”
Payette, the Steeldogs head coach, was also full of praise for his latest recruit after he showed dedication to come back from his injury.
“Cam has worked really hard and we have to remember this was a lad that was out of hockey two years ago.
“He’s a great young lad and he’s a great example of what you can do if you’re dedicated and want to succeed.”
There is a still a few spots remaining to join the Steeldogs Academy next season and for a chance to follow in the footsteps of Cam Brownley, you can apply to Rohan Tawde at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 07579803833.