Sheffield Steelers' defence: scary or fallible?

Tanner Eberle believes Sheffield Steelers' defensive corps can be an intimidating and diverse bunch - even if others outside the club don't share the view.

By Bob Westerdale
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 10:51 am

The forward says the return of Adrian Saxrud-Danielsen to the blue line has been a huge boost to the club's chances of winning EIHL silverware.

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With fellow-import Keaton Ellerby in the squad - and GB regular Davey Phillips due to return from injury on Saturday at home against Manchester Storm, (7pm) he thinks the roster's defensive strength is there for all to see.

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Eberle regards the recent return of Saxrud-Danielsen, as: "Huge for us. He is a big body and moves the puck really well.

"We were missing that physicality; when him and Ellerby are both in the line up it is a pretty scary 'D' corp to go against.

"We have guys that can skate and fly and we have two big guys that like to play the body every play. It is a really nice mix and I love what are D corps has done this year."

Eberle thinks the resolute nature of the defence is a key reason for the club's ability to close games out.

Adrian Saxrud-Danielsen jousts with a Clan rival.

While most Steelers fans would endorse his assessment, the website has a different view.

The site applauds the offensive nature of Aaron Fox's squad, writing: "At this point in the season, it’s hard to look beyond the Steelers as the league’s top offensive team. They have 117 goals in 30 games (an average of 3.9 per fixture) on the season and have outscored their opponents 45-27 since New Year’s Day."

But in their own half, the hockey platform has reservations.

"Defensively, though, cracks are starting to show at the Sheffield Arena," said Britishicehockey, earlier this week.

Keaton Ellerby in the thick of it: Pic Dean Woolley

"The Steelers have conceded more goals per game (2.37) than Cardiff (2.30) and Belfast (1.87). If Sheffield can tighten up their defence, they’ll be unstoppable. Until then, they remain fallible."

Meanwhile, Steelers' assistant coach Carter Beston-Will says he and the club keep a close eye on forward Anthony DeLuca who left the club after failing a drugs test.

He has recently moved on from his home-area club Trois-Rivières Lions for Kansas City Mavericks, after being traded.

Beston-Will said he did not know what the longer-term future would hold for the 26-year-old, but wished him well all the same.

Anthony DeLuca.

*Elite League results on Wednesday night did nothing to help Steelers' cause.

Third-placed Belfast Giants, who are likely to mount a strong, late bid for the title won 7-1 at Coventry Blaze.

Above them, Cardiff Devils beat Glasgow Clan 4-2.

It means Sheffield's lead over the Welsh at the top of the table is now down to two points, although Steelers have four games in hand.