Weekend double victory for Steelers. Final score: Coventry Blaze 2-4 Sheffield

Tom Barrasso has given Sheffield Steelers his blessing to seek out his own successor if the ownership feels they cannot hang around waiting for him to make his mind up over next season.

By Bob Westerdale
Monday, 11th February 2019, 6:16 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th February 2019, 1:59 am
Tom Barrasso, Sunday night at Coventry
Tom Barrasso, Sunday night at Coventry

The American coach – the architect of two weekend wins for Steelers - has been transparent with the club since taking over from Paul Thompson; he won't be hurried into a decision over next season.

Businesses like to plan in advance - and Steelers are no different. And in the light of last Summer's disastrous recruiting campaign, they need to get it right this time around.

Asked what effect postponing his decision might have on the club, Barrasso replied: "You’ld have to speak with Tony (Smith, owner) specifically as to what his expectations are. We have talked about my situation. My situation remains the same. I'm not averse to returning to the team but I can't commit to that at this time.

"I would like to see what's out there at the end of the season. I have told the team very specifically that if they felt they needed to make a move, they should have a date in mind by which I needed to give them an answer...and I am more than comfortable with that position and I have been very up-front with Tony about it."

Asked about what factors regarding future employment are at play, he said: "Totally the calibre of hockey, it has got nothing to do with the locale.

"You get a chance to coach in the second best league in Russia or a very high level in Germany...they'd be things that would be interesting to me.

Tom Barrasso, Sunday night at Coventry

"But I have enjoyed my time in Sheffield, the living experience here is very easy, compared to being in other parts of Europe. And the people have been great to me."

On Sunday night, Steelers exercised a similar control at Coventry Blaze as they had the previous night in the 3-1 home win over Nottingham Panthers. They won 4-2.

Tanner Eberle, man of the match the night before, scored inside four minutes.

The same line added a second at 18;56, with Eric Neiley awarded the final touch, his second goal the Steeler season.

Tanner Eberle at Coventry

Steelers were in cruise control and Neiley bagged a brace on the power play at 37;42, with Josh Pitt claiming his third assist of the evening.

But goalie Jackson Whistle continued to impress, particularly in a save from Swedish forward Thom Flodqvist and then when he had to face a combination of attackers unmarked because of a bad line change.

Whistle was eventually defeated at 50;59 when Alex Nikiforuk potted, for Blaze.

A last dash effort for Blaze, on a 5-on-3 PP, delivered them a second Nikiforuk goal.

Ryan Martinelli closes down a Coventry opponent

But Jonas Westerling made it safe with Sheffield's last of the evening, an empty netter, for a 4-2 win.

Jonathan Phillips scores v Notts on Saturday. Pic Dean Woolley
A spot of team-bonding for Eric Neiley and Josh Pitt. Pic by Dean Woolley