Happy 'Vally' back on song for Sheffield Steelers

If there was one skater you would choose to be firing on all cylinders in Sheffield's hunt for the EIHL league title, many Steelers' fans would pick Marco Vallerand.

Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 9:41 am

It's a team sport of course, and the South Yorkshire club is going to need the likes of Rok Stojanovic to cement his position as number one goalie, Robert Dowd to keep scoring in every game, and Kevin Schulze to maintain his almost ever-present influence from the blue line.

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But the fact is that when Vallerand is at the peak of his form, Steelers have a better chance of winning.

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And that is all that matters with Sheffield trailing three points behind league leaders Belfast Giants.

Vallerand has missed 12 games through injury and when he returned to the ice, far from fit, in the second week of March, he failed to find the net in seven games.

Goalscorers need the buzz and the confidence that a goal generates.

And 'Vally' found that last weekend when he scored twice.

Marco Vallerand back on scoring form.

His first goal, against Nottingham Panthers, was marked with a 'monkey off the back' celebration, showing how much it meant to the winger, who turns 33 on April 17.

Vallerand says it had been hard to get back into the rhythm in the first few games but he'd contributed well, defensively.

"There were a couple of games where I was still creating a lot of chances they were just not going in - I think in the last three games I hit seven posts.

"You just have to stick with it and shoot."

Vallerand - key asset.

The Canadian said a player cannot allow the pressure of not-scoring to weigh too heavily on their shoulders.

But he admitted it had been on the back of his mind - as, he said, it was for Dowd, who went through an eight-game scoreless patch before equalling Jeff Legue's club scoring record.

As for the chase to overcome league leaders Belfast Giants, he said: “Obviously they have been on a roll and they haven't dropped too many games to give us a chance to take back the lead that we had for a while, throughout the year.

"You have got to respect their whole team, they are playing well," he said commending their goal output and defensive efficiency.

The title race will come down to the three games remaining between Sheffield and the Giants, which would be play-off-hockey-style contests.

Vallerand added there were a lot of similarities between the teams, with the number of potent forwards on each roster.

"They play hard and they play fast," he said, adding that each team had its own strengths.

Before the weekend back-to-back clashes with Giants, Sheffield play host to Manchester Storm on Wednesday night, aiming for revenge after losing a shootout to them on Sunday.