Sheffield Steelers: play to win or not at all

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THERE is a nice, comfortable seat on the bench - or even in the stands - for any Sheffield Steelers’ player who does not pull his weight from now until the end of the season.

Some players had their ice-time chopped when they gave a below-par performance at Cardiff Devils last Sunday - and that is something coach Ryan Finnerty will not shirk from doing again.

Finnerty has the luxury of a spare import, so when Steve Goertzen is back to full fitness, one overseas player will have to cool their heels away from the ice.

But those who do make the roster will also ‘ride the pine’ if their contributions are deemed to be lacking.

“I took stock when we were 4-1 down at Cardiff and there were players who were not on their game or being indisciplined, so we sat some guys out, rolled seven forwards and switched the lines up.

“It send a message out and we got back in it and won the game.

“I can guarantee you 100 per cent that if I have to do it again I will.”

Finnerty pulled John DeCaro, the goalie, off in Wales, but insisted that was a reflection on the “terrible defending” that was going on, in front of him, rather than the netminder himself.

He had also dropped forward Scott Champagne for the previous night’s match at Nottingham, but said the forward would be competing for a role like all the other imports.

Nottingham could win the League on Friday if they win in 60 minutes at Belfast, and Finnerty acknowledges they would be worthy champions.

“They are a good team, been consistent and remained healthy most of the year.

“We have proved we can play at that level - we did well enough to win there last Saturday - but I accept they are the best team in the League.”

Asked, in hindsight if he would have recruited differently las Summer, he said: “I wouldn’t have taken Colin Shields and we made a mistake with Cory Pecker. But the scouting on Pecker could only tell us so much.

“It is no secret we need more scoring from our team now. It has been frustrating some times to see how we’ve been unable to capitalise on all the hard work getting into scoring situations.

“Every year is a transition year, but this has really been a roller coaster year.

“Yet we have a solid foundation here and we intend to build a championship side” Finnerty said, citing Tylor Michel and Shawn Limpright as central to that ambition. It’s not over yet though - we have the Challenge Cup and the Play Offs in our sights.”

Sheffield travel to Coventry Blaze on Saturday before hosting Cardiff on Sunday.