Variety of challenges ahead for Sheffield Steelers

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Paul Thompson hopes Steelers’ midweek away win at Manchester Storm will have helped strip away a key advantage that Cardiff Devils have over them this coming weekend.

Sheffield travel to Wales and one of the smaller EIHL rinks to face off their domestic campaign on Sunday.

Traditionally, Steelers prefer the bigger surfaces like their own Arena.

But the friendly in the cramped surrounds of Altrincham helped prepare them for inevitably intense hurly-burly of Cardiff.

Referring to the Gardiner Conference opposition, Thompson said: “The Manchester friendly was a worthwhile game. Ideally we would have liked the Champions Hockey League action out of the way before playing this but that wasn’t to be (Steelers host Frolunda Gothenburg on Saturday, first.)

“There will be no easy games in the league this season and we will have to come here three times in league and cup action. Playing on this small ice is something we have to get used to so Wednesday was also a good test ahead of Sundays Challenge Cup game in Cardiff – we got some small ice bad habits out of the way midweek and not on Sunday. We just have to adapt our game in smaller barns.

“It took us 40 minutes to play like we have to in buildings like that. When we got into our stride we scored three goals in the final period and played like I know we can – better to find our stride there and then than in Cardiff when the game really means something.”

The coach said he was pleased with empty-net scorer Tyler Mosienko’s performance over the Pennines.

“He has been working hard and, perhaps, trying too hard. That goal will give him the confidence just to play his own game.

“Also, I loved the way we blooded a young goalie in Brad Day at Manchester. Brad made four or five big saves for us when needed. I was pleased with the way the boys played in front of him. They played hard, they knew it was a big night for him and they were diligent in their duties all evening.”

Steelers will keep a close watch on Colton Fretter’s situation ahead of the weekend.

The forward was ill during the recent Scandinavian tour, and played only a few shifts of the first two periods in Manchester, with another injury. He is unlikely to miss either game though.

Dundee launch the 2015-6 season with a game against Belfast Giants tomorrow (Friday.)

Then Cardiff’s players get a chance to impress on their home ice on Saturday. While Steelers take on the Swedes, the Devils host Manchester.

Meanwhile Steelers still do not know whether winger Phil Hill will be a member of their squad for the 2015-16 season.

Coach Thompson remains concerned about the depth of the squad compared to other sides in the Elite League. But he is also pragmatic about the club’s financial situation.