Put your money on Mitchell Balmas, this weekend, Sheffield Steelers' fans!

When things are turning ugly on the ice, a hockey coach turns to his top players.
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And the statistics garnered from Sheffield Steelers' 4-0 defeat at Cardiff Devils on Wednesday, prove how much Aaron Fox depends, particularly, on Mitchell Balmas.

The 26-year-old Canadian played 23.30 minutes of the game, more than any other Steeler on the Welsh pad.

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Normally it is a defenceman who gets the biggest slice of ice time, Dominic Cormier and Colton Saucerman usually see more action than anybody else in the squad, followed by the likes of Kevin Tansey, Brien Diffley, and earlier this season, Matt Petgrave.

So far the only forward to swallow up more minutes than any other team mate has been Patrick Watling, during comfortable wins over Dundee Stars and Manchester Storm.

Balmas, who played in the AHL with Iowa Wild last season, has been a revelation in UK hockey.

He had only scored four points in 36 games for the Midwestern side and was minus-six in the plus minus category when he had a handful of matches with ECHL outfit Iowa Heartlanders.

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But he is now riding high as the EIHL's top points scorer with 58 points in 47 regular season games, four points ahead of Gary Haden of the Glasgow Clan, and has a plus-21 playing ratio.

Balmas was Aaron Fox's last summer signing of 2023, the 12th addition to the squad.

Fox had thought the player would re-sign back in the AHL, but must be counting his blessings now with his return in goals and assists.

Balmas will be a key part of this weekend's fixtures, as Steelers shrug off the heavy defeat in Wales and continue their hunt for the league title at Nottingham Panthers on Saturday and then on Sunday at home to Guildford Flames.

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Flames will be looking to upset the party, having recently lost at Sheffield Arena in the Challenge Cup final.

Balmas scored in that game and while he hasn't found the net in the three subsequent outings, you can bet he and his linemates Marco Vallerand and Robert Dowd will be ready to reward the home crowd.