Sheffield Steelers owner admits new boys may have had an EIHL shock to the system

Tony Smith will be looking out for the work ethic which underpins all winning teams when he watches his Sheffield Steelers side' take on Nottingham Panthers on Saturday night.
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His coach, Aaron Fox, has been honest enough to admit some of his players have been "outworked" in first-period spells during a couple of games so far this season.

That must have piqued Smith's interests, as he and the whole management team want nothing less than 100 percent commitment.

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"My opinion is that one or two players probably did not quite expect the quality this league has got, this is a really good level of hockey," said the owner.

"There are no easy passes, there is no taking a shift off because you get found out very quickly.

"When guys come into Steelers for the first time they find the speed of the game in the Elite League is good and the quality of the hockey is good.

"That was what Aaron was alluding to, one or two guys had not got up to speed in the UK.

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"If you just take one or two shifts off, you get the proverbial boot up the backside to step it up."

Sheffield Steelers' new boys will come good says owner Tony SmithSheffield Steelers' new boys will come good says owner Tony Smith
Sheffield Steelers' new boys will come good says owner Tony Smith

Smith recalled a night when his club was playing in a European hockey competition: "An opposition coach warned his team they weren't just playing a bunch of Brits - you are playing 14 top Canadians and these are not easy games."

Coach Fox has stated he will make changes to his second and third offensive formations for Saturday's Panthers' game.

Smith said that the Latal-Raksa-McNally line, for instance, was "not the perfect line yet, that's just my opinion, you might see some changes there.

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"Aaron will keep tweaking the lines until he gets the best chemistry. That is what early season is for."

The odd change apart, Smith thinks the 2022-23 team is an upgrade on last year.

"It always takes time for teams to gell, there are a lot of new guys and it's taking time but I have every confidence Aaron and Carter (Beston-Will) will sort it out, you can't complain when you are second in the league at this stage and top of your Challenge Cup group.

"So far, maybe we have not got that smooth-skating and fluid passing that we have had in previous years, but we have to bide our time, I think we will be absolutely fine.

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"Aaron is very good at recruiting and sees things in players that maybe others don't see, early on. Down the line, he always seems to bring it through.

"I have 100 percent faith it will be ok. I have seen statements from other clubs making apologies to fans - we are not in that situation! We have got a good team and I am convinced we will do what we always do and be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

"We have an exciting team with big names - give them time, that's all."