FIVE things Sheffield Steelers need to happen to win the league this year after Dundee defeats

If the Sheffield Steelers 2.0 team is going to win the League this year, several things will have to happen.

By Bob Westerdale
Monday, 7th March 2022, 12:11 pm
Steelers try to force some pressure on the Dundee net. Derek Black
Steelers try to force some pressure on the Dundee net. Derek Black

One: Their injuries (and its knock-on effect to the remaining over-fatigued players) must start to recede.

Two: They are going to have to start beating Belfast Giants - starting this coming weekend.

Three: Rok Stojanovic will have to bear the burden of goaltending after an injury to Barry Brust.

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Four: The players must exit a form slump which has seen them lose five out of seven games, relinquishing the table top to Giants.

Five: The same players have to unite, rather than point out flaws in others.

In the introduction to this article, I described it as the Steelers 2.0 team, because that's the way it feels for coach Aaron Fox.

His new-look side looked a tired, dishevelled unit in the 5-4 shoot-out loss to Dundee Stars on Saturday at home, and they were beaten 2-1 in overtime by the same opponents on Sunday.

Fox acknowledges his roster is a "completely different" one from that which started the season.

The two newly-acquired Innsbruck skaters Antonin Boruta and Nico Feldner are going to be valuable, but after just one practice and two games "a little bit of adjustment" is needed for them to embrace the side's tempo and style.

Fox declared: "It is easy when things aren't going the right way to blame the guy next to you, question a decision that was made on the ice in certain situations.

"That's not the way out of this. The way out is getting back to playing winning hockey. there's got to be that D (defensive) first mindset, and it has to come from within.

Sam Jones defending at Dundee: Derek Black

"It's not like there is any disharmony, it's just we have been on quite a big run here and we did while we lost Connolly, DeLuca, and Vallerand for close on eight weeks this year, we lost Daine Todd (he's expected to return home soon) and Saxrud-Danielsen for six weeks; it's a long list of injuries that take a toll throughout the year."

On top of that, there are four crocked players who probably should not be playing right now.

With a crunch series at Belfast looming, Sheffield badly needed to get back on track on Sunday in Dundee.

They were pushed back for much of the opening period. Despite a two-to-one shot advantage though, Stars couldn't find the sweet spot.

Davey Phillips in a warm embrace at Dundee: Derek Black

It was a similarly edgy middle period with both sides being called for minor penalties.

The breakthrough came from Brandon Whistle, he netted at 34:23 to further his ambitions at the EIHL club.

It was a peculiar one too, with Stars celebrating a 'goal' they thought had gone in. Their netminder Brython Preece was well out of his net when Whistle scored from just over the half way line.

Stars didn't take kindly to that and felt justice was served when Dillon Lawrence buried a rebound on a power play for 1-1 at 49.04.

So overtime, for the second night running, began and it was settled by a power play goal from Kalvis Ozols, at 63:15.

Sheffield had picked up just overtime points - hardly title form.