Ice Hockey: Time for Steelers boss to halt slide

Sheffield Steelers boss Doug Christiansen.
Sheffield Steelers boss Doug Christiansen.
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It bore all the hallmarks of a coach applying for his own job.

Doug Christiansen, who has had a bumpy start to his coaching role at Steelers, used Saturday’s programme to effectively re-publish the CV that got him the job in the summer.

Christiansen noted how his Edinburgh Capitals team had set franchise records for points in all his three seasons there, (2007-10) after a ropey start. Then at Belfast Giants, (2010-13) after a “rocky patch” he repeated the franchise record.

“I know what it takes to overcome adversity,” he stated and added: “We are not where we want to be. We are re-shaping a club and a culture, it takes time.”

Whether he will get the time he needs, could depend on games like the Boxing Day showdown in Nottingham Panthers, which could attract up to 8,000 fans. The encounter is always of defining significance to a season.

At the weekend, Steelers emerged with just two points from back-to-back games against Cardiff. Last night’s big loss was a damaging setback for the team boss.

On Saturday, the adversity Christiansen had highlighted showed up in a 0-2 advantage Devils built through the Tomas Kurka and Matt Myers.

Steelers had been vulnerable defensively yet they looked like they were capable of getting back in it. Gord Baldwin and Rob Dowd levelled, before more adversity arrived with Mac Faulkner punishing a Frank Doyle rebound.

Jason Hewitt’s shot deflected in off Jonathan Phillips for 3-3 before a solo goal from Drew Fata gave Sheffield their first lead and one they held on to despite a late scare when Kurka hit the post. It was a functional performance, but it delivered Steelers’ fifth straight home win.

Last night, Steelers again went behind early on - a common trait this season. Jake Morrisette netted short-handed at 9.59. Goalie Phil Cook made some good stops and was happy to see a Steelers’ ‘goal’ washed out by the officials because the net was off its moorings.

For the second time of the weekend series, Devils went two up, Kurka flashing the puck past Frank Doyle at 23.47. And for the second time, the balance of play had not really been mirrored by the scoreline.

Steelers had it all to do all over again. But while a good chance on a 5-on-3 power play came and went, they scored at at 47.48 Fata, assisted by Steven Goertzen and Mark Thomas.

Just as Sheffield looked like gaining parity, Myers, unassisted scored his second of the weekend.

Exactly a minute later Faulkner made it 4-1 and 41 seconds after that Sheffield capitulated completely: Davies adding an embarrassing fifth at at 52.47 in front of 1,600 delirious Welsh fans.