Sheffield Steelers fans urged to make plenty of noise after comeback win
Steelers' coach Aaron Fox has underlined the importance of crowd support at Sheffield Arena after his team overcame a faltering start to romp to a 6-2 victory over Fife Flyers.
Saturday's pre-Christmas attendance was 5,766, a few hundred down on their last league home game.
And the slightly low-key mood in the House of Steel may have impacted on the team's early play - they went 1-0 down after three minutes, but rectified things later on.
"I thought we came out a little flat in the first,” said Fox. "First five or six minutes we didn't have out feet going, the atmosphere in the building wasn't great.
"It is Christmas time, I get it, but it does build the boys up when there is a big crowd behind us and we come out and everybody is screaming."
Fox insisted that was no excuse for an unimpressive start, saying: "I said after the first period that if we come out as bad for the first five or six minutes against a good team it could cost us. We have got to stay on top of that and make sure we are ready from the puck drop."
Fox wondered if his team had thought it would be an easy game. But once his skaters settled, they started "to take charge of the game".
It is a measure of this club's ambition that such a focus was given to such a small detail as the crowd and its effect in the opening minutes, as the rest of the evening turned out to be a one-sided demonstration over an injury-hit Flyers' team.
While the home fans were disappointed to see James Livingston score the first goal, there was no going back, when the immaculate Eric Meland levelled at 11:51. Marco Vallerand made it 2-1 and when human dynamo Anthony DeLuca added a third just inside the middle period, the result was never in doubt.
Vallerand got his second, to show he is back in form after injury, and while Carlo Finucci grabbed a consolation, the remaining goals fell to Michael Davies and the returning Robert Dowd. The only time Fife had a sniff was when they had a five-on-three power play, but Tomas Duba shut the door on them.
A more demanding task awaits in the second leg of the Challenge Cup quarter-final on Wednesday. While Steelers are 5-2 up after the initial 60 minutes, they have yet to win in Manchester.
But Saturday's form might suggest that could change.