SHEFFIELD today take on Braehead Clan, the team which stunned British hockey five days ago by hammering championship contenders Cardiff Devils 7-1 and that has taken seven points from the last eight.
Steelers took note of the landslide win over Devils- but were already preparing to show their Scottish opponents some respect in any case.
Defenceman Mark Thomas explained: “Braehead are a really good team, they came our building and won 4-0 (October 16) so we’d never take them lightly after that.
“Their main guy up front is the former Nottingham Panthers player Brendan Cook. In Jordan Krestanovich they have a decent player who played in the NHL (Colorado Avalanche) and everybody knows how Bruce Richardson plays.”
Cook, a one time team mate of ex Steeler marksman Joel Irving (Utah Grizzlies,) has scored five goals in the last four games. And having scored three times against Steelers so far, he will be high on coach Ben Simon’s pre-match team-talk agenda.
Clan suffered seven straight defeats in October and November, but before Sunday’s penalty shoot out defeat at Nottingham Panthers, they had won three on the bounce.
Thomas said: “They started off the year as a brand new team and like every side in that position took a time to get into a routine. But they are not a team you’d particularly choose to play against in the Play Offs, for example. Since we lost to them we have done well against them though (winning 6-4 and 5-2.)”
Thomas, at 27 Steelers’ longest serving current player, is hoping his own form picks up from tonight onwards.
In an honest self-assessment, the Mancunian said: “I’m not really happy with how I’ve been playing. Sometimes if you have a bad bounce it affects your confidence. I have been struggling. But I am playing for a team and as long as we are winning I can pick my game up.”
Steelers’ owner Paul Ragan will attend today’s Elite League owners’ meeting.
Ragan wants a more professional set-up established to run British hockey. On the issue of payments owed by the League to referees and linesman, first revealed by The Star earlier this month, Ragan says: “I don’t exactly know what the administrative issue is, but we have to manage the league in a better away to avoid bad perceptions.”