No ice in mine thanks: Arena issues persist for Sheffield Steelers

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Sheffield Steelers prepare for their Champions League challenge on Sunday still concerned about the state of the ice they will host Austrian team Red Bull Salzburg on.

Two weekends ago, the pad at Sheffield Arena had at least one hole and pools of water.

It prompted Rob O’Shea, general manager of the Arena, to publicly “recognise there were issues with the quality of the ice... (which were) exacerbated by the warm outside temperatures. He added: “We are working hard to rectify the situation for this weekend.”

But the game he was referring to - Sunday’s visit by Manchester Storm, was not without its issues.

The surface visibly deteriorated in the third period and the puck was held up as Steelers tried to execute their passing game. Coach Paul Thompson said they were in the same position as they were a week previously.

“It is not Sheffield Arena ice right now, it’s not close to it” he said. “Again its a very warm in the building. It might be the time of the year, the humidity, I don’t know the ins and outs.

Sheffield Steelers' Mike Ratchuk. Picture: Andrew Roe

Sheffield Steelers' Mike Ratchuk. Picture: Andrew Roe

“But the ice isn’t good, and that doesn’t favour our game either because we are a passing, skating, quick-transitional team.”

Thompson is at pains not to use the sheet as an excuse though, accepting: “Both teams have got to play on it.”

He was happy with the win rather than some elements of the 6-4 victory over a team which had not had the benefit of anything like Steelers’ pre-season.

He said his side had conceded “easy goals...we have got to be a little bit better. We should have buried them at 4-2.”

His team were 0-2 down at one point, later lost a 4-2 lead but added that, at 4-4, he wanted to see character and his players responded.

The coach praised two players in particular, Mathieu Roy who scored two on his return from injury, and the all-round contribution of Mike Ratchuk.

He said he hoped another defenceman Anders Franzon - who has been suffering back spasms - would be back for the Red Bull game.

Sp far. Steelers have lost all three CHL games, but Thompson says there’s belief that his squad can beat rivals who hammered them 8-1.

“We have proved five on five against CHL teams that we can match them” he said, reiterating the need to keep out of the penalty box.

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