Sheffield Steelers v Cardiff Devils cup final: winning goal could come from ‘unsung hero’

Gerad Adams, partying as Steeler coach
Gerad Adams, partying as Steeler coach
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Gerad Adams believes this Sunday’s Challenge Cup Final could be decided by what he calls ‘lesser’ players.

The former Cardiff Devils and Sheffield Steelers’ coach will be an interested observer when his two old teams meet in South Wales with the trophy up for grabs.

Gerad Adams - Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 06/12/14

Gerad Adams - Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 06/12/14

But he was non-committal when it came to picking out who he thinks would win the silverware in a game that’s close to a sell-out.

“Looking ahead to the game, I think the difference could be the ‘lesser’ players and by that I mean, guys with less of a profile without being in any way disrespectful,” Adams said.

“The top players will all take care of each other in a game like that so you’re looking at someone that maybe hasn’t scored a lot of goals that can count on the day.

“The coaches will have the game managed and with the atmosphere, it maybe takes something away from the big players so it could be a case of someone stepping up to put the points up.

“As for who I think will win, my head tells me one team will win and my heart tells me the other team so interpret that any way you want to.”

Adams served as a player and as a coach for both clubs in his career since first coming to the UK as a player for Edinburgh Capitals in the BNL back in 2001.

He spent two years at Steelers between 2003 and 2005 before moving to Cardiff, initially as a player-assistant coach before taking from Ed Patterson.

The 38-year-old left Wales to take over from Doug Christiansen at Steelers in 2014 where he won the play-offs and a league title before his association with them came to an end.

In fact Adams was Steelers’ coach when they lost to Cardiff 2-1 in the 2015 Challenge Cup Final in Sheffield.

But he hopes the Devils have learned from last year when defeat in the final to Nottingham Panthers sparked a slump that saw them miss out on the title and lose in the play-off semi finals.

He added: “It’s certainly a tough one to go out and win the Challenge Cup at this time of year then go on and win two other trophies after that. It’s a delicate situation. Without knowing too much about how they run internally, just looking at their team, hopefully they’ve learned a lot from last season and how things ended for them.

“It’s the old saying in sport, you have to lose before you can win so you would hope the lessons they’ve learned at the games they lost down the stretch last year will pay off.

“Both teams are where they should be with the budgets and the kind of organisations they have. They should be at the top in all competitions so it’s exciting to see them in the Challenge Cup Final.”

It’s been two years since Adams left the Steelers and is still to make a return to coaching, enjoying life in ‘civvy street’, working with Royal Mail.

But he hasn’t ruled out a return any time soon and believes his time away from the game has improved his skills as a coach.

He said: “The thought of me returning is always a possibility. When I left the game, the passion wasn’t really there for me initially.

“But having gone away and had success in another part of my life, I’ve learned a lot about myself and in coaching as well as people and communications.

“I would always be open to returning at some point, but it would definitely have to be the right opportunity.”