Covid recovery more important than goals says Sheffield Steelers ace Matias Sointu

The curse of Covid has given most people a different set of priorities in their daily lives.

Friday, 14th January 2022, 11:00 am

Sheffield Steelers' forward Matias Sointu is no different.

The 31-year-old from Tampere, Finland had gone through a barren spell in front of goal, failing to find the net in eight matches.

That drought ended on Wednesday when he scored the decisive second goal in the Challenge Cup quarter-final first leg victory over Fife Flyers.

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If Sointu (20 points; 19 games) was relieved to have broken his duck, he wasn't showing it.

He has been more immersed in making sure he had fully recovered from his own brush with Covid and the resulting isolation.

"There has been a lot going on with Covid and everything, so the scoring was not the first thing on my mind," he told The Star.

"It (his focus) was to get back in shape, get healthy and start playing hockey again.

Matias Sointu scores: Pic Dean Woolley

"It was nice to score a goal again and get a 5-1 win but I wasn't too worried about scoring."

Sointu said he had suffered high-temperature symptoms from Covid.

"I'd had a fever for a couple of days and then the isolation for 10 days.

"The fever was pretty high and it took a lot of energy out of me. So I think it takes a while to get back in the same shape, but I should be fully over it."

The player added: "If you are not skating for 10 days and even if you are not sick or anything it still takes a while to get back into shape.

"I don't know if Covid was a factor in there but I should be fine after this week, back to normal."

Sointu felt Wednesday's Cup success suggested that the majority of the team group were back healthy again.

"I think we looked pretty good, we were skating pretty well, we had a lot of 'O-zone' time and I don't think that our shape was bad."

Sheffield Steelers' fans cheers on their team against Fife Flyers.

Injuries and the coronavirus has seen player formations mixed and matched in lots of different ways.

Sointu said when Justin Hodgman became ill - he has been testing this week after Covid - the training staff experimented with lines, but they sometimes had to change when it came to game time.

In the Guildford Flames' game last weekend, Sointu was on a forechecking/ energy line with Tommaso Traversa and Jonathan Phillips.

Against Fife, he was paired with the more offensively-driven Robert Dowd and Marco Vallerand.

Sointu says the important factor is to do whatever is required by the team.

With Steelers scheduled to play at Coventry Blaze tonight (Friday) Sointu and his team-mates have been preparing to lock horns with his classy countryman Janne Laakkonen.

Steelers fans vs Fife.

At 39, Laakkonen is Blaze's best playmaker.

The pair have played each other many times, and they briefly shared the same dressing room at Ilves in Finland.

"He is smart good, with the puck, he was a pretty good skater since he was young, so you have to be aware, he is really good on the powerplay."

Aaron Fox says he is continuing to scout the player market with injuries continuing to hamper his squad selection.