Sheffield Steeldogs enjoyed a busy but relatively successful festive period taking three wins from five games in just eight days.
(Results: Hull Pirates 1 Steeldogs 4 Steeldogs 6 Manchester Phoenix 0 Steeldogs 6 Hull Pirates 5 (OT/PS) Swindon Wildcats 3 Steeldogs 0 Steeldogs 2 Milton Keynes Lightning 3 (OT.)
Dogs made light work of their first trip to Yorkshire rivals Hull despite missing the injured Lubomir Korhon
Cole Shudra logged some increased ice time and the three lines out-worked the Pirates with goals from Hirst, Bosas and Squires putting the result beyond doubt before Hull showed some life late on.
The second leg of the War of the Roses challenge against the Manchester Phoenix looked like a relative formality with a one goal advantage and a short benched Phoenix side but Tony Hand’s team didn’t make it easy.
Two goals each from Squires and Lascek ended their resistance as the Steeldogs took the honours for the fourth year in a row.
The New Year’ Eve clash with Hull was a real rollercoaster affair; Steeldogs taking an early 3-0 lead only to concede 4 straight.
A Lascek goal sent the game in to overtime and with no further scoring it was decided on penalty shots – Squires and Bosas scoring to give Sheffield the extra point.
Saturday’s trip to Swindon proved fruitless as lapses in concentration let the Wildcats score three goals in the first period. The Steeldogs had the better of the other two periods but couldn’t beat GB net minder Steve Lyle.
Sunday’s visit from the Milton Keynes Lightning looked a tough prospect for a tired Sheffield side. However they worked hard and took their chances and led 2-0 after first period goals from Wood and Korhon. MK showed their class and despite some great work from net minder Dalibor Sedlar, they tied up the score before grabbing a winner in overtime.
Coach Greg Wood was positive about the team’s performance over the holiday period sayng: “We’ve learnt something from every game we have played over the last couple of weeks. Possibly the biggest thing we are learning is that you can’t switch off at any point in a game, we can’t ease up at any time.
"We’ve had two bad periods of hockey in the last few weeks and that has cost us two games. Small mistakes cost you - this is why we have to be disciplined. That is the calibre of the league; you make a mistake, you get punished with a goal.
“We are still looking up at the teams above us trying to close that gap. We’ve lost a little way this weekend as we only picked up one point out of the fur available. There are still twenty matches to go and each week we just need to keep chipping away and picking up points each weekend. In the grand scheme of things we have played two really good teams this weekend and we picked up a point. It’s a learning curve for us, it has been a tough gruelling schedule, the guys deserve a bit of a break but we are going to push on here and plug that gap with the teams above us.
“The way the team have been playing over the past month shows we can play against any team - the results have proven that. It’s a very fine margin between winning and losing in this league. There are no easy nights, every game you have to be ready, switched on and competitive. We’ve had a tough Christmas schedule, 5 games in the last 8 nights. We have to be optimistic, have a good week in training and be ready to go when Peterborough come to iceSheffield on Saturday”.