Mike Duco has been praised by his Sheffield Steelers team boss for his attitude after being dropped.
The Canadian forward was left out of the line-up in the 2-1 win over Cardiff Devils on Wednesday.
It has been an up-and-down debut season, so far, for the feisty 28-year-old year old. He scored twice on his regular season debut, went on to miss three games with a hand injury after a brawl and has scored only one goal and two assists in his last nine games.
Asked how the player reacted after being left out of the side, Thompson said: “Like a man. It’s not an easy thing to do, when you have got to leave somebody out - we wouldn’t have had to if Tyler Mosienko hadn’t have had that ban - we’d have switched things around, but he’s celebrating with the boys (after their midweek win) and that shows great team spirit.”
With Colton Fretter back after missing 11 games through a hernia operation, competition for an import slot is intense. One of those in the mix is Chris Lawrence, who came in to fill Fretter’s role.
Thompson said the 6ft 4ins right winger had one of his better displays against Devils, at iceSheffield, particularly defensively when the Welsh were on the power play. “I hadn’t used him a lot on the penalty kill, but with his big reach and his big stick, I thought that was one of Lawro’s best games for us.
“He was really committed all over the ice. He puts up points every game.
“Because he is a big unit, sometimes you look at him in the state that he’s not working hard...but he is. One of his strides is 15 of Hewy’s (Jason Hewitt.)
“He knows he is on a short-term contract and that is not an easy thing to go through. He was excellent, one of our better players.”
Overall, the coach was relieved with the “total committed team performance” against Cardiff.
“We were throwing hits, blocking shots, penalty kill was outstanding, our trap was where it needs to be, defensively. We didn’t turn over pucks on their blue line, we got pucks deep, we were great in our end. It was a performance of four weeks ago, or so.”
Steelers will have to reproduce that efficiency on Saturday, when they take on the same team, in south Wales.
“It is going to be tough, we have got some injuries right now, I think they are 12 + 0 in their building” said Thompson.
Last weekend, Steelers had to travel to Braehead Clan, before returning to Sheffield, where they put in a tired, losing performance against Nottingham Panthers.
They have to avoid that trap, some how, this weekend. They return from Wales in the early hours of Sunday, before hosting Clan.