David Simms Steelers’ ice hockey column: Time for Armstrong to lead if Sheffield are to have change of making play offs

Sheffield Steelers making the play offs is a must, otherwise we have no one to blame but ourselves.

By David Simms
Wednesday, 06 March, 2019, 11:47
John Armstrong in action for Steelers'

With just 6 games left, two against Saturday’s opponents, Fife, two against Milton Keynes and one each against title rivals Cardiff and Belfast the Steelers must somehow find away to win 3 of those games.

I believe that another 6 points will safely see us through to the final 8 and a play off position.

Less than 6 points and we are rolling the dice with death and the humiliation of non progression to the post season for the first time in our history.

If that happens then we as a club will have know one to blame but ourselves.

It will be a collective blame as well from top to bottom. Previous coaches, present day coaches, ownership, management, players and staff.

The Steelers have no right missing out on a top 8 finish.

The Steelers side that started the season should have been a play off side.

The Steelers side with the additions made certainly should be a team making the post season.

The roster throughout the season has had deficiencies but still also possesses the quality and experience to collect the points needed for mid table survival.

It’s that quality and experience that we must look to in these next three weekends.

When I persuaded John Armstrong to come back to Sheffield over other sides in this league I used the words, “don’t come back and be part of someone else’s side, come back and lead your Steelers side.”

John has huge responsibility in these next few weeks, he has to show the skill, speed and determination that he has shown in previous years.

He has to lead, he has to carry if necessary in a way Guilliume Desbiens did two years ago.

Big John isn’t alone. Aaron Johnson, Ben O’Connor, Robert Dowd, Evan McGrath and others, those experienced go-to guys have to step up, lead, be men and say to the group “jump on my back boys, we’re going to get through this”

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Our boys did just that last Saturday in one of their best performances of the season in beating Belfast 4-1.

We know it’s in them, we know they have the ability they just have to now show they have the character and desire to deliver.

I believe that they will, they are not bad people.

Far from it, they are a good bunch of men trying their best.

If I had a sister I think I’d allow the vast majority of them to marry her and maybe that’s the problem.

Teams that have won in Sheffield before I wouldn’t allow a sister of mine within 20 miles of them.

That uncompromising attitude of doing just whatever it takes to ensure the job is done. When we show that we win.

Heart, desire, character are part of the game as is hate – yes hate – a hatred of the opposition, a hatred of losing that eats away at you and drives you on to victory is also imperative.

This weekend is the perfect weekend to make a dent in those 6 points required with back to back games against Fife.

The Flyers are also fighting for a play off birth, they have the skill and also the games in hand to ensure they make it.

Saturday’s game is a must win. 8,000 people are expected as the club has reduced its ticket price to just £5, trying to ensure a huge crowd to get behind the team.

In fairness the fanbase has stuck with the team, crowds have funny enough increased this season.

More than 6,500 in attendance last Saturday for the game of the year against the Giants. How nice would it be to do Fife on Saturday and be roared to victory by over 8,000 screaming fans.

See you there, they don’t come much bigger that this one.