SHEFFIELD Steelers have reached the half-way point in the season. And their mid-term report is a mixed one.
The team that promised so much at the start of the campaign has struggled, at times, particularly against the smaller fish and often at home. Players have come and gone.
One, Cory Pecker, was a poor acquisition. Others were in need of development (Danny Wood) or wanted to go a team anywhere other than Sheffield (Colin Shields.)
Injury has removed swish defenceman James Jorgensen, possibly for the entire season.
But there is a positive, festive note.
Steelers, despite form problems and a degree of dressing room upheaval, remain in the hunt for the main pots of sliverware.
But they need points in their Christmas and New Year stocking.
Ryan Finnerty’s men face EIGHT league games in 16 days, starting on Saturday at Hull.
Among them are League leaders Nottingham Panthers, who are eight points ahead of Sheffield but have played two games more, and reigning champions Belfast Giants.
Sheffield face them and Coventry Blaze, twice each. Giants are four points ahead of them, Blaze are two behind.
So, it’s now or never for Steelers. If they get things right in those 16 days, the problems of the early part of the season will be conigned to history.
But they need to get another import in -and they need to stay injury free. Much will rely on the two new boys Chris Frank and Simon Ferguson.
Coach Ryan Finnerty built this team on the premise that it cannot rely as much on Jeff Legue as it previously: but goals have been hard to find. Legue and Steve Goergtzen, for instance, haven’t set the world alight in the past few matches.
Now is the time to get things right- and give thousands of Steelers fans the Christmas they deserve.