Sheffield Steelers - time for the game face to come back

Mark Thomas's former team-mate Randy Dagenais in fine form atg the "Roast"
Mark Thomas's former team-mate Randy Dagenais in fine form atg the "Roast"
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Tonight, the laughing, musings, back-slapping and general fun-time that the Sheffield Steelers’ players have been enjoying has to go on the back-burner.

So far this week it has been a non-stop carousel of joy, with the club, its players, former players and fans enjoying Mark Thomas’s testimonial.

The week included a “Roast” session at a hotel before a completely uncompetitive friendly with All Stars of the past. Coach Gerad Adams never wants to be a spoil-sport, but it will be his neck on the line if Steelers fail to live up to their potential this year and end up empty-handed.

Which is why he has had his serious-face on since Tuesday night.

For him, it has all been about preparing - in the limited time allowed - for tonight’s massive clash with Nottingham Panthers, in the first leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final.

These games are frequently a war - although Thomas Testimonial guest Scott Basiuk, who witnessed their meeting last Saturday - was surprised how little physicality there is in modern hockey compared to his day. Steelers cannot give anything less than 100%, otherwise they will set Panthers on course for a sixth consecutive Challenge Cup win.

Basiuk thinks Steelers are capable of being a great team. But if they are to live up to the achievements of those who sprang back into visibility from the past, they have to get tonight and Tuesday’s second leg absolutely right.