Sheffield Steelers need a 'crash course' in back-to-back games
Several Sheffield Steelers' players are going to have to undergo a crash-course in how to compete across back-to-back games after their mixed weekend of results against Nottingham Panthers.
After panning Panthers on home ice 8-4 on Saturday, the side were beaten 5-1 at the Motorpoint Arena on Sunday.
It was a flashback to similar difficulties faced by Tom Barrasso's team of 2018-19.
Coach Aaron Fox said leagues in Europe routinely played Fridays and Sundays, allowing players to recover from their efforts in between.
But the EIHL prefers Saturday and Sundays, and some new Steeler skaters have some adapting to do.
Fox said his players had been "half a second out" in their timing - but also, more damningly, that they were "out-battled" at Nottingham.
He said he wasn't overly concerned though, as being outworked hadn't happened in the first Nottingham game or in any of the pre-season matches.
"To be outworked in one out of 15 periods, they aren't bad numbers, and we have to be realistic and expect things like that,” Fox said.
"This is the first back-to-back experiences for some players. In Europe games are Friday and Sunday.
"So now they have to find a way to have the energy they need on Sundays."
Fox said Steelers had won only two out of 12 Sunday games last season, in the second portion of the year - and that was something they needed to avoid if they are to win championships.
"Some times players will have higher energy levels than others, they will have to punch through (fatigue) in times of adversity,” he said.
"On Sunday, sometimes our tracker wasn't doing the right job and making the correct read, but I thought in Grade A chances the game was 12-12, so in that sense it wasn't a 5-1 game."
However, the coach admitted some players "had to look in the mirror" before Saturday's EIHL game opener versus Coventry Blaze.
He said there were "positive and negatives" about goaltending performances last weekend and that while he had alternated starting goaltenders so far, he would look at that the situation on a game-to-game basis from now on.