Sheffield Steelers' new boys face surprise at Coventry Blaze

Some of Sheffield Steelers' new players face an "eye opener" when they take to the ice pad at Coventry Blaze on Sunday.
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Coach Aaron Fox is warning his skaters that the smaller dimensions of the Midlands rink guarantee that quick decisions will have to be made if they are to return to South Yorkshire with two points.

Steelers were 2-1 behind to Coventry in the opening game of the season at Sheffield Area before winning in overtime.

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Fox knows that Coventry will be eager to please their home fans this weekend.

Brett Neumann, ready for a goal. Pic Dean WoolleyBrett Neumann, ready for a goal. Pic Dean Woolley
Brett Neumann, ready for a goal. Pic Dean Woolley

"They compete and battle hard. Going into that arena... it is a very difficult place to play because of the size of it things happen very, very fast" said the coach.

He said some of the new faces in his team had never played in a rink of this size in the UK.

"It will be a bit of an eye-opener for a couple of guys, but on the flip side of that usually there are a few offensive opportunities because of the rink size there.

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"I like our group and we will have to be ready to play," he said.

Robert Dowd and crewRobert Dowd and crew
Robert Dowd and crew

Steelers should be rested after a rare Saturday night off.

Blaze won't be - they must travel to Glasgow Clan's rink that day.

One Steeler who could benefit from the speed of Sunday's game is Brett Neumann.

He was Sheffield's second top goalscorer in league and Challenge Cup last year.

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He has yet to find the net so far but that may be down to bad luck, as only Robert Dowd and Mitchell Balmas have had more shots on goal in the three league games, so far.

The normally speedy Neumann had a slow start last season in terms of goalscoring but his time will come.

Hopefully, that will be in the Midlands, where Sheffield lost twice last term.

Meanwhile, Dowd has paid tribute to his "sublime" forward partners Marco Vallerand and Mitchell Balmas for gifting him a superb team-goal at Nottingham Panthers last Saturday.

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"I love knocking it in from six inches outside the goal line with no goalie to stop it!" he laughed.

"The build-up play from Vally to Balmas on the back door, and then for him to have the vision and poise to knock that back across, instead of trying to stuff it in, for me to tap into an empty net; it was sublime play from both of those guys."

* Cardiff Devils say their ex-Steeler, Evan Mosey, will be out for weeks with an upper-body injury.