Bring on the pressure for top spots says second-year Sheffield Steelers' ace

Scott Allen is relishing the competition for the best spots on Sheffield Steelers’ forward lines.
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Coach Aaron Fox faces tough decisions on which players to put on the top lines as well as special teams.

With more depth at his disposal than ever before in the EIHL, the team boss has to find the right combination of skating talent, especially for the top six places.

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Allen was a first line player last season but is taking nothing for granted as Sheffield prepare for Saturday’s challenge opener against Nottingham Panthers.

Brett Neumann and Scott Allen picture by Hayley RobertsBrett Neumann and Scott Allen picture by Hayley Roberts
Brett Neumann and Scott Allen picture by Hayley Roberts

“There is absolutely more competition and, from experience, those are the teams that go the distance and have a successful season … ones that are pushing each other in practice and there is always a guy behind you ready to take your spot. That is nothing but good.”

The feeling of being “on the edge of your seat” should guarantee better performances, he feels.

“If you want to be on the top line you have to do it for 60 games for the year,” said Allen.

“It doesn’t matter to me where I play.

Scott Allen entertaining fans this time last yearScott Allen entertaining fans this time last year
Scott Allen entertaining fans this time last year
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“Foxy can put on the left wing, I have been on the right wing in the past, and last year I played a lot of centre and thought I did pretty good.”

Now other centres have been recruited, says Allen: “If he wants to put me on the wing to fill the line in a certain way then I’ll do that.

Allen, 33, said he would be happy to play on a line with Daniel Ciampini and Brett Neumann, like last season.

“We have that chemistry and knew where we are going to be on the ice. Maybe we can work even better as we build off last year.

“Maybe we’ll come up with a couple of new plays.

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“It is fun to play with them and would also be fun to play with other guys if that needs to be done, I keep an open mind to that.

“If I am to play with anyone else, I will play the same way and work hard and hopefully form new chemistry.”

As for the accolade of being perceived as a top line player, he said: “It is not important to me, it is nice to be acknowledged in that sense but if other players are stepping up...maybe there’s a guy going on a 10-game goal streak… maybe he should be on the top line.

“I am competitive but at the same time I respect other players and play whatever role is needed to win on a certain night.”

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Last year, it took Allen a few games to get acclimatised and find his groove.

He scored a single assist in the five pre-season games.

“I was dipping my toes in the water, I don’t know why, I can’t explain it, but these things happen. I want to start this season strong and start producing right away,” he said.

Allen’s slow start in exhibitions last term certainly didn’t continue into the 2022-23 regular and Challenge Cup season, he scored five goals and two assists in the first five games.