The Sheffield Steelers' riddle - can the scorers start to score again?

Steelers' coach Paul Thompson goes into the final stretch of the season with one issue more pressing than any other.

Monday, 5th March 2018, 12:37 pm
Updated Monday, 5th March 2018, 12:40 pm
Steelers' players celebrate a goal from top point scorer and defenceman Ben O'Connor

How does he get his top line scoring?

Sheffield’s senior imports have simply not produced the goods enough, in terms of goals.

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Pre-season, if anybody had said Mathieu Roy would be 39th top scorer in the Elite League by March, they would have been laughed at.

The 31-year-old French Canadian has scored 20 goals in 46 League games - one behind Matt Marquardt who was brought in as a third line left winger.

Centre Tim Wallace - who has 100 NHL appearances under his belt - has not produced anything like the goals that were expected of him. He’s netted six in 57 domestic games.

Andreas Valdix, Levi Nelson and Colton Fretter - who have all performed miracles for Steelers in the past - will doubtless have wanted to have produced more than they have in the 2017-18 season.

So can this team suddenly find their goal touch, clock up some wins in the final League run-in, and engineer another Play Off victory that will save the season again?

Thompson is not a coach to publicly vilify his players, individually.

But he told The Star: “We have not enjoyed the first line scoring of Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils. They have had consistent producers.

“We have to win matches by committee - four or five guys have to chip in. This is not just about Fretter and Roy - there are guys paid to score goals and its not happened when we’ve need it.”

Thompson said his team were “soft” around Braehead Clan’s net in last Sunday’s 5-2 reverse, a game that saw all the senior offensive imports neutralised.

Steelers, a fifth-placed team in the EIHL standings, are the fifth-placed team in terms of League firepower.

And that has got to change or Sheffield Arena will be a trophy-free zone.

*Sheffield’s top ‘plus-minus’ players are both defencemen - Joonas Ronnberg and Davey Phillips.