Ryan Finnerty pays tribute to Sheffield Steelers' Brit pack ahead of Manchester Storm clash

Ryan Finnerty has paid tribute to Sheffield Steelers' Brit pack - and had a playful dig at his old team-mate Jason Hewitt.

By Bob Westerdale
Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 8:52 am

Finnerty's Manchester Storm take on Steelers in a play off semi final first leg tonight in Nottingham.

And Steelers' homegrown players certainly pose a threat to the North West side.

Finnerty has personal experience of them of course. He played with Hewitt, Robert Dowd and Jonathan Phillips in the title winning team of 2008-9.

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Ryan Finnerty: ex Steeler in charge of Manchester Storm.

"Obviously they have got a pretty good Brit pack there, you slide (Liam) Kirk into that mix and (Brendan) Connolly and it got a lot stronger" said Finnerty.

"Everybody has talked about Jonno (Phillips;) he has been a consummate professional. He is still motoring around at 38.

"Dowdy was a young kid (when Finnerty played alongside him,) he was kind of just breaking in, and Hewy, well, he's doing his thing. This is a remarkable story - I don't think Hewy has had any power play time in the Elite League until he turned 38!"

Hewitt is actually 37.

Jason Hewitt, pic Mark Ferriss.

On a serious note, Finnerty agreed there had been little difference in quality between the two sides, heading into the semi final.

"I think the (previous) games have been pretty close, I think we matched up pretty well against them. I think it is going to come down to goaltending."

That wasn't an observation about Sheffield's two rookie goalies, Ben Churchfield and Curtis Warburton, who have been guarding the net since import John Muse was injured in game one.

Asked if his side could try to exploit their inexperience, he replied: "Both have done a good job. I think everyone has tried to get in front of them and take their eyes away, but they have done a great job and I don't necessarily think it (their inexperience) is a talking point any more."

As for Sheffield's skaters, he said: "They are so deep offensively, you have got to play a pretty structured game to compete with them.

"Sheffield have arguably been the strongest team in the mini series so it is good to get them first and see how we do."

He said if Storm won the play off tournament it would be a feel-good moment for the club as they built towards the regular season in September.