Sheffield Steelers and the mysterious case of the missing goals

Sheffield Steelers' goalscoring issues of the second half of last season remain a riddle that has yet to be solved, admits Tony Smith.
Robert Dowd was Steelers top scorerRobert Dowd was Steelers top scorer
Robert Dowd was Steelers top scorer

The club owner cannot put his finger on what went wrong offensively.

Earlier this week, The Star shone a spotlight on the issue, pointing out the disparity in firepower between Steelers and treble winners Belfast Giants, and the part played by the Northern Ireland club's Scott Conway.

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Smith says: "From memory, we were streets ahead at Christmas, we'd got the lowest conceded goals and the highest scored.

Marco Vallerand had rotten luckMarco Vallerand had rotten luck
Marco Vallerand had rotten luck

"We were ahead of the likes of Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils and Nottingham Panthers.

"All that was ok and we were going well: but then goals dried up for whatever reason.

"It was the same players, same coaching staff, same routines.

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"But goals disappeared on us this year and I genuinely don't know why. Nobody can answer that."

Steelers v GiantsSteelers v Giants
Steelers v Giants

Steelers had a meager 16 percent Power Play success rate in the league, only Fife Flyers had a worse statistic.

Smith mused: "Is it the wrong personnel on the power play, is it complacency? I don't know.

"I pay people to answer these questions, we don't seem to have an answer at the moment, we had a great penalty kill, but couldn't seem to get the power play to click on any given night.

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"We were on fire up to Christmas, we just needed to keep the pressure on and wait for Guildford Flames to fall apart, but they didn't in fairness. They kept going and we didn't.

"I'd thought we had a cracking team up to Christmas, we had a few injuries but we had a big enough squad, we brought in Calle Ackered and Marco Vallerand, quality players who were to fill the void of players going out but it didn't.

"One or two guys looked a bit off pace in my personal opinion.

"Marco was signed to score goals and that is one of the problems, Marco didnt score goals - six out of a projected 19 during the period he was playing.

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"Guys were scoring against Fife and Dundee but they weren't scoring against Cardiff and Belfast."

In fairness to Vallerand - who many fans would like to see back - he had wretched luck in front of goal, and also suffered sickness and injury after returning from a spell at HK Olimpija Ljubljana.

Just before the EIHL season ended, Vallerand told The Star his season had been: "Up and down" but stressed: "I don't think the stats show what I have done on the ice.

"When I got here I think it was the first 10, maybe more, games, I hit a post or two per game.

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"If those are not even an inch left or right you can add this to my goal column."

Steelers top scorers last year:

1 Robert Dowd (30 in 69 games) 2 Brett Neumann (29/70) 3 Scott Allen (28/65) 4 Daniel Ciampini and Martin Latal (both 24/66) 5 Danny Kristo (19/60) 6 Brandon Whistle (14/61.)