‘My diabolical team can win the league’

Embarrassed: Steelers owner Tony Smith
Embarrassed: Steelers owner Tony Smith
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STEELERS owner Tony Smith admits Sheffield supporters deserved their ticket money back after their “diabolical” last match - yet still thinks they can land the league title .

“We should have had people at the exits on Sunday giving fans their cash back,” said Smith of the wobbly 2-1 win over seventh-place Hull Stingrays.

“We should have been on our hands and knees apologising.” he added.

“We were fantastic the night before (Belfast Giants; 3-2 loss) but Friday was dire and the fans deserved better. There are no excuses about the players being tired because of their schedule. They play, go to bed, get up refreshed and all they have to do is play hockey, it’s simple for them. It was diabolical. We turned out rubbish and we shouldn’t hide the truth.

“It was worse than watching paint dry. I was cringing for the fans. If I could have turned Coronation Street on, I would have.”

While Smith’s anger is obvious, he still believes Sheffield can overtake overwhelming favourites Belfast to the championship.

“That’s the weird thing, this can be a fantastic team we have here, we have a strong chance of beating Belfast in our remaining games...anything can happen in hockey.

“Belfast are the team under pressure, they are the ones expected to win on home ice.

“They are a very strong side, but we are most definitely capable of turning them over.”

Smith said long-term injuries during the season to Jonathan Phillips, Mike Ramsay and Rod Sarich had hit the side - and the latest ankle problem for Ashley Tait had further destabilised the side as a unit.

“Ash needs a lot of time to recover from ankle ligament injury and I can’t see him back before August...it would be even silly risking him for the Great Britain side (World Championships, Slovenia, April).

“I don’t know how many other teams have had injury problems, but we just have to put it behind us and move on.”

Steelers will be hoping to do precisely that tomorrow night at Braehead Clan, one of their three games in hand over Belfast.

Clan have lost their last three matches but want to fight off Coventry Blaze for the fifth spot in the division.