How Sheffield Steelers dominate late stages of matches

Sheffield Steelers exhibited impressive reserves of fitness and mental strength to finish games strongly last weekend, despite a pre-season training period of just two weeks.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 10:11 am

But Brendan Connolly, a menace on the ice during every gruelling shift, hopes they don't always have to call on that quality in future games.

On Saturday, Steelers scored four times in the last 11 minutes to secure victory on the road at Manchester Storm.

On Sunday, against the more match-fit Cardiff Devils they dominated the closing stages scoring three goals in the final 10 minutes of action.

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Connolly said, subconsciously, players might have viewed the task as an uphill struggle when they 2-4 behind to Cardiff at the Arena.

"But all you have got to do is dig in, get stuck in and see what happens," he said.

"Sure enough we carried a lot of the play in the offensive zone in the third period and fortunately we got some bounces and put it in the back of the net."

He said to mount that late charge so early in the season "is really nice, because it shows the capability that we have.

Great Britain forward Brendan Connolly in action against Sweden earlier this year (photo by Gints IVUSKANS/AFP).

"Cardiff, obviously, are going to be hunting for trophies and a team we have to keep an eye on all year - we know how big the game was to get of on the right foot and start the season. To do it this way...obviously, we don't want to have to do it all the time but it just shows that we can.

"It will give us some belief moving forward."

Coach Aaron Fox was more than satisfied by the way his team grabbed the late initiative in both games last weekend.

"I felt that was something that was pretty positive to take out of Sunday night," he said.

"Cardiff had been together for six weeks, for us to be able to have some energy on the end of the back-to-back, it shows that guys came in in pretty good shape and can still bring it for both nights.

GB forward Connolly, who scored a goal and an assist in the opening league game against the Welsh, has made a pretty good assessment of the team, saying the Sheffield playing roster had felt better about themselves in the EIHL opening weekend, rather than the previous weekend's challenge matches against Nottingham Panthers.

"As long as we stil keep getting at it...you can see the depth that we have - every line has chipped in. When you do that, we are a scary team."

Steelers are on the TV again this weekend. Sunday's live Premier Sports broadcast is their league visit to Coventry Blaze (6pm).

On the previous evening, Sheffield host Manchester at the Arena (7pm) in the Challenge Cup.