The international break could not have come at a better time for Sheffield Steelers’ coach Paul Thompson.
Such is the scale of the injury problems in the camp - Zack Fitzgerald is now rumoured to have a fractured hand - any time off is a positive.
Paul Thompson said: “After last weekend, the message I let them all with was one of ‘Clear off, get away from the rink, I don’t want to see them for a few days’ and I think that will do both them and the team good as when they come back they will be refreshed.
“Guys like Mathieu Roy are beat up, the man is an absolute warrior. He needs rest. I listened to everything everyone told me about Mathieu when I arrived and it was true and more. One of the reasons we are still in this title hunt is because of how he plays. Our top scorer commits and blocks shots, he is prepared to pay the price. I admire him more every day.
“Guillaume Desbiens comes back when he shouldn’t have and gives us a great weekend, Tyler Mosienko, Levi Nelson the same. They worked on Jeff Legue for 45 minutes just to get him on the ice on Saturday. Fitzgerald is just ridiculously tough and I don’t mean in a fighting way. He is one hell of a tough, strong man. He shouldn’t have laced them up on Saturday but did then gets another injury during that game that meant he missed Sunday – if I’d have told him the bus time on Sunday morning he’d have been on it as well” said the coach.
“I’ve never known a season like. We haven’t even spoken about Colton Fretter, he is probably our number one go-to-guy and he has been out since God knows when. I feel for him, it’s killing him watching the game. He is trying everything to get back. He deserves better luck than he has. Rob Dowd the same, how do you replace Dowdy, you don’t, you can’t.
“That’s where you have to give huge credit to (GB captain) Jonathan Phillips, Jason Hewitt and Luke Ferrara. They haven’t filled in, they’ve led us at times. Scoring big goals, killing penalties for fun. They are good players and even better people.
“We have played more hockey than anyone and I doubt any team works as hard as we do. That’s why this international break and a weekend off has come at the right time. The boys need this rest, its not a holiday, it’s healing time. They don’t need weeks off, just these few days. They are hockey players, they will soon be bored and want to skate again!”