DANNY MEYERS believes his Sheffield Steelers’ team dropped a huge tactical clanger at the start of a season which is likely to see them fail to lift the League title.
Meyers, who turns 30 today, believes the side only found its true identity late this season – and started off unwisely trying to emulate the offensive-minded Panthers team he iced for, for six seasons.
“I think we made a mistake of trying to base ourselves on the way Panthers play” admitted the defenceman.
“We are in the entertainment business and people were talking in the Summer how our team was going to be highly skilled, fast and full of goals, with the likes of Cory Pecker (subsequently released) and others in the side.
“It was almost as if we were trying to use high-scoring Nottingham as the model. So we started off in a style that, now, seems pretty evident didn’t suit us. We were absolutely too offensive.
“It took Corey Neilson five years to form the (Notts) side he has now; that sort of team doesn’t come overnight. It took (ex Steeler boss) Dave Matsos a while to get a title and, with respect, Ben Simon only won the League because it was the team that Matty had built. Corey has been chipping away for a long time and it’s a tall order to beat them to the League, now” said Meyers, who was dumped by Neilson, last Summer.
Meyers recalled how changes both in personnel helped, at the Arena, with people like Simon Ferguson and Chris Frank coming in. “These are players in the traditional Steeler mould of hard working and feisty, players who get the job done. We went back to a defensive style built on no high-risk hockey...we got better and that’s why we went on such a good run.”
Meyers, whose side entertain seventh place Edinburgh tonight, says one particular game sticks out as significant in Steelers’ inability to overhaul Nottingham at the top.
Steelers had beaten Notts 9-4 on December 27 and then beat Coventry three nights after.
But there followed a New Year’s Day hangover, he said: “We were 3-1 up and cruising (after nine minutes) and then went on to lose 5-3.
“If we’d have won that I think we could have pushed on and gone on a long run, really adding the pressure on to Nottingham.”
Steelers have had doubts over Steve Goertzen’s availability for tonight, he missed the midweek game in Braehead with an upper body problem.