Sheffield Steelers must 'look at themselves in the mirror' says Davey Phillips
Sheffield Steelers are in for a bout of self-evaluation and soul-searching after losing half of their home league games, so far.
On Wednesday, they conceded two goals in the third period and slumped to their second regular-season loss on Arena ice out of four.
That ratio - as well as the manner of this week's defeat to Coventry Blaze - is sending warning signals out to players, the management, and fans alike.
Nobody was more crestfallen after the Blaze defeat than defenceman Davey Phillips, whose disappointment was obvious when he spoke to a gathering of fans, post-game.
He knows that if Sheffield are going to win the main title this season they cannot forfeit games at home and matches that they are ahead in.
He said they must find a way to win games like Wednesday's when they are a goal up going into the final 20 minutes.
"There are no excuses - we have got the fitness levels ...I think it is more mental," he said.
"Maybe not think the game is already won after two periods and up by a goal, respect the opposition a bit more, knowing that they are going to fight all the way to the end for a full 60 and that is exactly what they did. Credit to them.
"We have got to look at ourselves in the mirror."
Phillips stressed he did not know the precise cause of the loss but he hoped that it was not a case of them having eased off, thinking that they had already won.
"If we want to go on and win the league we can't have that mentality going into any game.
"If that is the case we need to nip it in the bud, hopefully, that is not the case.
"We have just got to learn from it, but it can't happen again, home or away."
The GB regular said that the team cannot pick and choose games in which they follow coach Aaron Fox' s game plan.
"I think we need to get away from that mentality of whether it is a Cup game or a League game. It doesn't matter who the opposition is, home or away, "Cup or League, you just got to get your head down and play every game. It's the same systems that Foxy wants us to play and with the same effort.
"You can't just turn it on and off like a switch.
"One night we might want to play our own way, or we want to play Foxy's way, you just have to come to every game 100 per cent with 100 per cent effort and do what Foxy tells us to do and we'll be successful."
Fox said his team had "played with fire" before this season and not played the full 60 minutes - now they'd had their hands burned.
His players had been flat at the start of the final session and had been exposed because of that. "We need to be a bit more consistent for the full 60" said the coach.
Coventry boss Danny Stewart pointed out they were playing with eight forwards and four defencemen at one point, but they had battled for the points.
His team managed 35 shots, compared with 67 from the home side. But they enjoyed a 71.43 per cent penalty kill rate and won more face offs.
Steelers remain three points clear of Cardiff Devils and Coventry at the top of the league, but have played two more games than both.