Sheffield Steelers take important Conference call this weekend
Steelers have to produce the goods against their peers this weekend if they are to be treated as early-season title contenders.
So far Sheffield have lost all four games against opposition from the four-team Eerhardt Conference. Three of those defeats were at home.
But Paul Thompson’s men get the chance to put that right against Cardiff Devils tomorrow and Belfast Giants on Sunday, both games at the Sheffield Arena.
Steelers are ahead of both in the overall Elite League table, but have played more games, so need to get their noses further in front.
Thompson will look to his leaders - and at the moment, there is no-one pulling his weight more than Robert Dowd.
He has scored 12 points in his last seven games - but it’s his defensive output that has caught coach Thompson’s eye.
“Dowdy’s work ethic and attitude is excellent” he said.
“If he turns the puck over there isn’t a guy in the league that will try harder to get it back. That’s what Steelers hockey is about, as much as anything else.
“That sort of thing is the catalyst for what we are trying to do here, something that all the team has to buy into. And I think, gradually, we are getting there.”
Dowd’s energetic linemate, Levi Nelson, has not had the same good fortune around the net; he’s only scored twice in 15 games.
“Levi goes through patches like this is sometimes, he has to be more selfish at times” said Thompson.
He’ll have an opportunity to take the puck to the net and shoot and he’ll be looking for his mucker Dowd. Now that’s fine some of the time, but there are times when you have to take the bull by the horns.”