Sheffield Steelers must pass the test of the EIHL big boys

If Sheffield Steelers are to be taken seriously as championship contenders, they are going to have to start beating the teams around them at the top end of the table.

Friday, 15th November 2019, 10:06 am
Updated Friday, 15th November 2019, 10:11 am
Ben O'Connor marshals the crease

So far, in this respect, the jury is out.

Steelers have played table-topping Glasgow Clan once and lost 3-4.

They have yet to meet Belfast Giants, whom they share the second spot with.

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Cardiff Devils are in fourth...and have beaten Sheffield home and away, both games by a single goal.

Which brings us to fifth place Coventry Blaze, who are Saturday visitors to Sheffield Arena.

Blaze have won twice at the House of Steel, 6-4 and 5-3, but were outplayed by Steelers in the Midlands.

It is still relatively early days in the League programme, but that 4-1 Steeler success in September is the only fixture that Aaron Fox's side have won against a current top-five team.

Coventry underlined their own credentials with a thumping 9-2 win over Clan last weekend.

Steeler Ben O'Connor, who played for them in the 2008-09 campaign, has plenty of respect for both Blaze and Glasgow, the latter a city they visit on Sunday.

"Coventry are a good team, they have beaten us twice here this year so we will be looking for a bit of retribution," said the GB defenceman.

He said Blaze's 9-2 victory proved one point: "You don't show up, you don't play, you are going to get nine goals put past you.

"On the flip side of that, Braehead (Glasgow) are going to be champing at the bit, ready to go this weekend, they will want to turn that around. It will be a challenging weekend for us."

O'Connor said the team had brought poor results on themselves with penalty trouble and bad individual decisions.

He said Sheffield had played five good periods of hockey last weekend yet results had still gone against them.

"If we play like that 90 per cent of the time we will be getting a lot more wins than losses so we have just got to focus on our game and playing the right way, and doing what Aaron (Fox; coach) tells us.

"The whole league is suffering inconsistency, the results are going here there and everywhere, that may be down to inconsistency or down to to the depth of the league but I know from our standpoint that we need to be more consistent, we need to be smarter and we need to be more disciplined."