Payette is angry over ‘dangerous’ high-sticking rival

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Sheffield Steeldogs’ player coach Andre Payette has lit the fuse for another explosive battle with Manchester Phoenix by claiming one of their players is “dirty.”

Dogs beat Phoenix last weekend to retain the Roses Bowl. It was an aggressive encounter even by Payette’s standards - a skater known for his own strong-arm tactics.

Steeldogs' Andre Payette

Steeldogs' Andre Payette

Dogs renew acquaintances again with Phoenix on Sunday, and Payette indicated Manchester’s Czech star Frantisek Bakrlik may have to keep his head up.

“Their team plays hard and the British guys who play for Manchester are fair, but I thought one of their new imports Bakrlik was pretty dirty and caught a few guys up high. He was quite dirty with his elbows and he caught a few of our players with his stick which is dangerous. I think it is going to be a real long year for Mr Bakrlik when he plays the Steeldogs.”

Payette said there is no love lost between our two teams. “We don’t like Manchester, we don’t like their players and to be fair the fans can be nice at times but there is always an excuse for something. It was nice to beat them but the real stuff starts on Sunday (EPL CUP).” Before then Dogs have to play at Bracknell Bees. Their next home game isn’t until September 21.

Asked about the club’s desire to compete for fans in a largely Steeler-dominated marketplace, he said: “I have a commitment to putting a brand of hockey on the ice that people want to see. I tell people come and see us, we play with passion. My lads play for Sheffield, they don’t play for their pay cheques they play because they want to win. They finish every check and block shots that you don’t see at the Elite League level.

“There are games when Ben Morgan will block 10 shots a game, they put the team first and play for each other. There’s passion that I think is missing at the Elite League level.”