Steelers’ star Tim Spencer has paid tribute to the two Scottish clubs who have made history by qualifying for this weekend’s Play Off semi-finals in Nottingham.
Sheffield take on Braehead Clan in the second semi, while Fife Flyers challenge champions and favourites Belfast Giants.
Clan produced a stunning 9-1 aggregate win over Nottingham Panthers, knocking the ‘hosts’ out of the tournament.
Spencer was surprised as anybody at the scale of the Scots’ victory.
“I don’t think anybody expected that, but you have to tip your hats to the Clan, they have played good hockey all year” he said.
“It is good to see them and Fife, two teams you don’t normally see in the championships.”
Spencer said all the sides in the final four were “playing great hockey and nothing could be taken for granted.”
He said Fife were a “dangerous team right now and if you don’t respect them they very well could get to the final”
Spencer was dropped from the import roster for the first quarter final leg at Coventry Blaze but, with Jeff Legue suffering a fractured jaw, he was re-instated for Tuesday’s 6-1 hammering of Marc Lefebvre’s defensive minded outfit.
The 6ft 6ins skater said: “It is unfortunate what happened to Jeff Legue, he is such an impact player. But guys have stepped up.
“Steve Goertzen stepped in his role and he played really well with that line (with Chris Blight and Max Lacroix.)
“It is tough losing a guy like Jeff, but guys want to step in and get the opportunity that Jeff had and they took advantage of that with six goals.”
Spencer said he first encountered Lacroix in junior hockey in north America.
“He was a centreman and good to see him step back into that role.Max had a goal, it was great to see the guys clicking together.
As for his own position - including the decision by coach Gerad Adams to sideline him from the first qualifier - he commented: “You cannot be selfish at this point of the year, we are trying to win a championship in or out of the line-up.
“It is never easy being odd man out, but we have got a great group of guys and it is hard to sit somebody.
“But I took it in my stride and the guys performed well in Coventry (3-2 win.)
“I was part of the team all year in and at the end of the day it is about lifting a trophy with the boys. Whether on or off the ice, it’s a team sport.”
Steelers’ confrontation with Ryan Finnerty’s Clan will be a fascinating clash, believes the 28-year-old Canadian.
He said Adams would have a game plan for the evening match at the NIC, but he didn’t envisage any sweeping chances in their tactics.
“We can’t adapt to other teams, we have to have them adapt to us. Beating Nottingham was a big win for them, they are going to be on a high going into the Play Offs. We have got to be ready for them.”