Why puck magnet Anthony DeLuca’s stock has risen at Sheffield Steelers
New Year's Day wasn't a game Sheffield Steelers fans will want to remember in a hurry.
Their team went down 5-3 at Manchester Storm - but out of the defeat, one good thing happened.
Sheffield forward Anthony DeLuca scored a hat-trick and that further bolstered his confidence in staking a claim for more ice time and a more significant role within the side.
The winger has now clocked up 11 goals and five assists in 31 games and is a puck magnet around the opposition net.
Only two imports have scored more goals - and Evan McGrath and Josh Pitt have been at Sheffield all season.
DeLuca, a 24-year-old Canadian, recalled: "I guess that showed me I can definitely score in this league. I have been able to score in all the leagues I have been to and that is kind of my goal to prove people wrong.
"Obviously I didn't have the start I wanted when I got to Sheffield, there is not necessarily an excuse for that, I just wasn't ready to come over and play but it's behind me and I am concentrating on the game ahead.”
His fitness had been an issue after being "bounced around" at other teams for the first two months of this campaign, and as a result wasn't in game-shape. But he said: "I am up to par now."
One of the factors behind his emergence as a significant contributor was the team camaraderie.
"I got comfortable, I think I am the type of guy who does a lot better with confidence and the guys have been helping me a lot in the room” he said.
"I really feel part of this group and that's what helps me on a personal level and obviously on the ice, so I think the guys play a big part in that and I have all of them to thank for that."
He said he enjoyed playing with this team which was made of players who never get "too down" on each other.
And, defensively, his centreman McGrath had "been a big part" in helping him.
"He is one of the older guys and he is my line mate and he has been helping me a lot with that."
He said if McGrath saw him slightly out of position, he'd tell him to correct it.
"I think it is nice for him to look out for me and when a guy like that is doing so much for you, you want to do so much back for him."