For Sheffield Steelers coach Gerad Adams, the timing of Mark Thomas’ Testimonial week has been far from ideal.
On Monday, players attended a “Roast” event where the odd glass was raised to the 600-game, 10-season veteran.
Last night, he played for an All Stars side including returning imports Steve Munn, Randy Dagenais, Jody Lehman and Scott Basiuk against his side in a fun-friendly at iceSheffield. It is all a fitting tribute to one of the most loyal servants in Steelers’ history.
But coming so close to tomorrow’s Challenge Cup semi-final first leg against Nottingham Panthers is not without its dangers.
“Jokey games can be a coach’s nightmare” Adams admitted. “But it was scheduled before the semi-final was set; what can you do? While not ideal, you have to honour a player who has stayed here for that length of time. As for the players, they have given me nothing to worry about all year with their diets. You have to trust them, and I do.”
Adams has an important training session this afternoon to iron out any wrinkles and a pre-game skate tomorrow before the semi.
Meanwhile, Thomas, the 31-year-old defenceman who started his career at Haringey Racers in 2003, was overwhelmed by good wishes last night at his testimonial game.
The event was a trip down memory lane for him and hundreds of iceSheffield fans.
Lehman in Tommo’s All Star’s team has put on some timber since he was here last but Jason Hewitt and Jeff Legue weren’t going to take it easy on him, thundering in big shots in the first minute.
The evening proved Munn looked like he could still do a job, Basiuk’s shot is still a cannon, Ron Shudra still has silky hands, Warren and Ashley Tait still like playing together...and Thomas will always hold an important place in the club’s history.