Top of the league coach leads by example

Ben Simon
Ben Simon
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ASHLEY Tait may move into a coaching role one day - but for now he’s happy to watch and admire the Sheffield Steelers team boss who is doing a pretty good job combining the duty with playing.

Player coach Ben Simon almost single-handedly turned last Friday’s match against Nottingham Panthers into a victory with an impeccable middle period performance, which brought him two goals. The win set the tone for a maximum points weekend which left them on top of the league, three points ahead of Cardiff Devils.

“When Ben plays like that, skating hard, taking the body he is very effective” said Tait, who himself was a game-breaker on Sunday, netting twice at Coventry. “He’s a ‘meat and potato’ player - he’s not flash or the type to put the puck through a defenceman’s legs. He goes into all the dirty areas where other people don’t like to go.”

Tait said training sessions bore elements of Simon’s uncompromising attitude. “That’s the way he runs practice, leading by example. It must be difficult to balance both playing and being a first year coach, but you’ve seen the results.”

Asked whether he will coach one day himself, the 35-year-old winger said: “One day, maybe, but not right now.” Simon, meanwhile, has refused to take the credit for piloting his side through four crucial games in five days.

He said “We have a very experienced team. It’s a credit to them that they don’t take short cuts. That’s how they get through the spell they just did. I preach playing the game the right way and playing the game hard. We have good depth and that means that we are able to make guys accountable.”