CANADIAN Neil Clark is the fall-guy tonight as Sheffield Steelers coach Ryan Finnerty again wields the axe over what seems to be his least favourite forward’s neck.
With the club – who have to win at Cardiff Devils this evening to progress to the Challenge Cup semi-final – carrying a spare import, one ‘foreign’ player has to stand down.
Clark has already paid the price once, missing three games on December 9, 10 and 11. Last weekend, in two games against Fife Flyers, Finnerty dropped Chad Huttel, a defenceman.
But the league champions conceded too many goals, so Finnerty looked at his forward line for the cut – and Clark’s name popped up first in his mind. Finnerty said: “Chad’s game wasn’t where it needed to be and it will have done him good to sit out last weekend. He took it well and has come back ready to go.
“Having him back there gives me a line-up I am comfortable to go into Cardiff with.
“I think it was evident against Fife that we were not as strong a team without Hutts, our defencemen were logging too many minutes. We missed the extra d-man.”
Clark, who is also studying at the University of Sheffield, will doubtless be wondering about his worth at the club, given the current situation.
Finnerty said the side had not changed much else for the festive period – which includes Boxing Day’s visit of Nottingham Panthers (5pm.)
“We need to move the puck quickly and improve our special team work but other than that it will be business as usual.’’