JOHN DeCaro blames a car rental company for his stop-start early season Sheffield Steelers’ form.
The American goaltender struggled to get out of first gear in the early stages.
But now he is in top form - an example of which was a stunning save from Nottingham Panthers’ Pat Galivan, in the home win, last Sunday.
DeCaro explained: “Things are better now, but for the first three or four weeks it was rough.
“I struggled but that was because the summer had been tough as I worked a lot and didn’t get time to get on the ice very much and that hindered me.
“I worked 100 hours every two weeks for a car rental company, taking over managerial duties, so trying to get on the ice was a nightmare.
“I don’t regret it because I did what I thought best for my family. But after the first three or four weeks I started to feel really good out there (on the ice.)
“There are still games when I feel I can stop everything and there are games when I don’t feel very good.
“But I got my feet wet and got going and in the last 10 or 12 games I have given us a chance to win, most nights.”
DeCaro, who turns 30 years old on Friday, said he was not worried about comparing himself with other Elite goaltenders.
“I am old enough just to want to win games and have fun. I don’t worry about stats - if I give up three (goals,) hopefully we score four.
“As long as I put in a good effort and give the boys the chance to win, that’s what I am looking for.”
DeCaro says there is a “night and day” difference this year’s Steelers’ outfit and last term.
“We have vastly upgraded this year in terms of overall depth and talent as opposed to last year we couldn’t even compete. Now every game is close.
“Most people who are fair in their assessment agree that we were not the second best team in the league last year, by a long chalk.
“We won a lot of games that we shouldn’t have, throughout the year and that kept us up at the top.
“Really, Nottingham and Belfast were by far better than we were.
“This year we have upgraded and committed to the process of league, cup and play off success.
“We have six solid D playing now, last time it was three or four a night, maybe.
“Offensively we have three lines that can score goals. We just didn’t have that, last year.”
Struggling Sheffield Steeldogs have confirmed the signing of goalie James Flavell.
He won League and Play-off titles as a Billingham Bomber in 2005/06. He has also played Midget ‘AAA’ hockey in Michigan, USA.