Sheffield Steelers should call on the character they showed in last season's Play Off final
Eric Neiley wasn't a Sheffield Steeler when the side lifted the Play Off championship trophy after an exceptionally long and arduous battle with Cardiff Devils.
Last year’s final at Nottingham saw Sheffield edge an unforgettable game that lasted 93 minutes; they won 7-6 after double overtime.On Saturday, Steelers were trailing to Guildford Flames after two periods of the quarter final first leg- but observers stood near the dressing room witnessed the deficit was not overly worrying the players as they trooped in to regroup.The skaters were all upbeat and confident they could overcome their opponents and so it turned out with an aggregate win of 9-7.Asked whether that team attitude was a characteristic strength of the side, the forward from Bucks County, Pennsylvania replied: "For sure. I wasn't here last year but I heard about the Play offs last year, I think they were down and the final went into overtime so we've got guys who have been here before."They know how it works we know we have good players and we know we are a good team and if we stick together we know we are going to get it."Neiley, who played for Atlanta Gladiators last season, has scored six goals in Steelers last four games - including two points in Sunday's decider in Surrey.He is one of several skaters Sheffield fans will want to see continue their present form when the side takes on Nottingham Panthers in the Saturday 5pm Play Off semi final, which follows the 1pm Cardiff v Fife Flyers match.John Armstrong has been an eye-catcher since he returned from injury, he has hoovered up eight points in four games and scored three goals in the quarter final.Then there is the incredible consistency of Mark Matheson he has two goals and six assists in his last four games for Paul Thompson's men.*The losers of the semi final games will meet in a bronze medal session on Sunday at noon, with the Final at 4pm.*Nottingham Panthers' coach Corey Neilson, whose side pipped Belfast Giants in the quarter final, said he was "looking forward to the challenge ahead" against Steelers and said his team have shown character to qualify.
*Will Steelers beat Nottingham on Saturday? Let us know your thoughts - including which imports you'd rest, who you think Sheffield might face in the Final should they qualify and what you'd like to see happen in the close season. Email [email protected] or tweet @westerdale10