Sheffield Steelers ‘can be a match for anybody’

Tony Smith, Sheffield Steelers
Tony Smith, Sheffield Steelers
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Sheffield Steelers’ owner Tony Smith is not the type you’d normally expect to take positives out of a 6-1 trouncing.

But he insists he has confidence that once the squad has its injury victims back, they will be a match for anyone - including Nottingham Panthers who inflicted the big defeat on them last Sunday. “When everybody is fully fit you will see the true Steelers” he said.

“Our big injury list certainly contributed to the defeat in Nottingham” said Smith. “We had three imports out and then Rob Dowd went off hurt, and he is a key player.

“Those who played left everything on the ice for two nights and played for the team rather than any personal kudos. Despite being short benched they gave everything - there is no issue about work rate.

“We do recognise that consistency is important and Doug (Christiansen; coach) and I have spoken about that. My message to the fans is to stick with the players, they are a great bunch who always give 110 per cent. When they are all back we will be firing on all cylinders.”

Smith has particular sympathy for Dustin Kohn, who has missed eight games with a variety of injuries. “Kohn has been unlucky, he’s had a car crash, a bad ankle injury and then tested a rink barrier at Coventry wit his head! I feel for Dustin, he is struggling. He has NHL (New York Islanders) pedigree but the best he can hope for now is just to get right again.

“As for Dowdy, he cracked two brand new helmets last weekend, so you can see how intense it all was.

“In the last two seasons I didn’t make it my business to know the guys professionally and socially, but I have this year and I like their character and dedication. They are a sincere bunch; they will get us to where we need to be.”

Panthers defenceman Brent Henley has been banned for two matches for attacking Tim Spencer and Tuukka Makela received the same for boarding Dowd.