AN UNCOMFORTABLE week lies ahead for Sheffield Steelers’ skaters.
Today is their first day back at work since losing three consecutive games and - more importantly - the League title. Training will be harsher than it has been for weeks.
But it’s not a punishment detail - as coach Ryan Finnerty is looking ahead towards the Play Offs, rather than behind, at their unsuccessful league quest. He says: “People are criticising us at the moment and that’s their right, but one thing people aren’t saying is how good a team (league winners) Belfast Giants are. They had to break every Elite League record and lost only five games to get ahead of us at the end. We have no excuses the better team has won.
“It hurts, and losing on Friday (5-1) took the wind out of our sails - we were feeling sorry for ourselves in the two other defeats last weekend. But practice this week will be tough. We won’t be going into next weekend’s last two league games (Edinburgh and Braehead) moping. We are down, but not for much longer.”
Finnerty admits that the move of Rob Dowd to Belfast last Summer and the injury to Ashley Tait more recently severely dented their Championship drive.
“We don’t have the same depth of British talent as Belfast and Nottingham Panthers. No disrespect to Tom Squires and Lee Esders, they are two improving, but young kids. They have come a long way, but neither are a direct replacement for Ash.”
Finnerty does not leave himself out when it comes to improving the product, to match Belfast’s workmanlike and more skilled outfit.
“I have to be better, we all have to be better.
“Everything comes from the top down and I have to study whether I am doing everything I can. On Friday, should I have clogged up the neutral zone at Belfast, sat back, absorbed pressure and hoped we’d create a transition? It’s not the way Sheffield likes to play” says the coach, who is retiring from playing in the next few weeks.
“We all make mistakes, it is how you learn from them.”