Sheffield Steelers: not as many fights or goals, but fans are sticking with them

Sheffield Steelers fans love goals, fights - and admire solid defensive play, too.

By Bob Westerdale
Friday, 01 February, 2019, 15:02
Anthony DeLuca celebrating a hat-trick

So far this season, they haven't seen a great deal of any of those, although last Wednesday's 2-1 win at Guildford Flames did suggest Tom Barrasso's call for a more controlled defensive performance may be bearing fruit, after conceding 11 goals in their previous two games.

Fights bring fans to their feet, but this team isn't really kitted out for that, compared to others in the past.

And as for goals, the loss of injured Robert Dowd has severely hit the team; it's his second time on the sidelines this term.

Despite all the issues, the fans have kept coming through the Arena door.

And it must be harrowing for the owners to see around 6,000 die-hards watch recent home games against Glasgow Clan and Dundee Stars, conceding six goals on each occasion.

But if defensively, there are signs of recovery, firepower is an equally thorny issue. Steelers have scored 11 less than Coventry Blaze, one of two teams that lie beneath them at the bottom of the table - and Blaze have played four fewer games.

It is not hard to see what's gone wrong here: forwards Justin Buzzeo, Stefan Della Rovere, Chris Lawrence, Brendan Brooks, Ryan Martindale, and the Rupert brothers all came, and, for varying reasons, left.

But while lack of offence has been an awkward reality to consider, there has been one player who has overcome criticism to seize a share of the spotlight: Anthony DeLuca.

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He arrived in average conditioning and was a healthy scratch on one occasion.

When he scored a hat-trick on New Year's Day, coach Tom Barrasso still reminded him that the defensive side of his game needed improvement.

That side of his game may be a work in progress, but Steelers have been grateful for his points and energy recently.

He has scored six points in his last five games, is strong on the puck and always looking to create havoc in the end zone.

DeLuca may have only have played 27 games for Sheffield, but only four other Steelers have scored more than him.

Nobody has kept pace with his scoring lately.

The 23-year-old Canadian will be hoping to add to his haul against Guildford at the Arena on Saturday night, as his Sheffield team try to wrestle their way into the play off grouping...and stay there.