Marco Vallerand to step up Sheffield Steelers comeback ahead of Nottingham Panthers clash

Slowly but surely, the Elite League's most influential player is making his way back.

By Bob Westerdale
Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 9:30 am

Marco Vallerand was injured when his Sheffield Steelers' team lost at Glasgow Clan in mid-February.

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The jet-heeled forward missed the next eight games, five of which ended up in defeats, a run which slowed Steelers' march towards the title to a crawl.

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Marc Vallerand, key to Steelers' success.

Vallerand returned at Belfast Giants last weekend, with coaching staff praying he did not re-injure himself.

Coach Aaron Fox revealed: "We were a little concerned going into the weekend, I won't lie. But I was pretty happy with Vally's game.

"He played on the Friday and the plan was to see how he reacted. On Saturday he was feeling not great but not horrible either, so he was in warm-up.

"He got into it and when that gets competitive spirit going hard, it is hard to notch it down.

Tommaso Traversa, impassioned statement to players. Pic Dean Woolley

"The more he played - and I'd asked him to do a bit here and there like killing penalties - you didn't really notice anything visible that he was coming back from an injury.

"So I just think, another few days of practice will help him and get him closer to 100% match fitness."

Vallerand, despite his time away, remains easily the club's top points scorer with 26 goals and 35 assists in 41 games.

Only Belfast pair Scott Conway and JJ Piccinich are ahead of him across in League play and they have iced 10 more times.

Vallerand will be looking forward to Saturday's game against Nottingham Panthers, he's hit five past them so far this season.

Meanwhile, captain Jonathan Phillips has revealed how Tommaso Traversa, scratched from Saturday's line-up, gave an impassioned speech to his team-mates before the second Belfast game.

“Tommy had asked me in the morning if he could say a few words, he wanted to speak to the group and being the honest kind of guy he is, a man who wears his heart on his sleeves the group listened and respected his message," said the skipper.

“Without going into detail it was about desire and winning battles, we all listened and the message certainly got through."

Steelers, who were the last winners of the Challenge Cup, will kiss goodbye to it tonight, as Belfast and Cardiff Devils face off in the 2022 final in Northern Ireland.