Sheffield Steelers season deemed 'a failure'

When it came to the crunch, Steelers failed themselves and their army of adoring fans.

Monday, 25th April 2022, 11:36 am
Updated Monday, 25th April 2022, 11:36 am
Rok Stojanovic turns the other cheek after Dundee kick his team out of the play offs Pic Derek Black

Their coach was a big enough man to admit it.

After a gruelling programme of 67 domestic games, Sheffield just didn't have the tools, the energy or the will to overcome Dundee Stars, a rival outfit that had finished a modest seventh in the regular EIHL table.

In terms of results, we should perhaps have seen the weekend events - Sheffield lost 0-1 at home and 3-4 away in the play off quarter final legs - coming.

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Sheffield Steelers watch on as Dundee Stars celebrate Pic Derek Black

Yet even after losing their previous four league games, to be defeated in both Play Off quarter finals represents a profoundly shocking setback and one that will hurt the club until they have finished their Summer rebuild.

Dundee, said their coach Omar Pacha, had relied on character, hard work, and an effort level that was "second to none."

"Adversity - we thrive on it," he said.

Pacha, himself, certainly does. At one point in his career he went around 20 games without beating Sheffield; now he has won the last four contests.

Sheffield Steelers on their way out of the play-offs

Aaron Fox, the Sheffield team boss, said; "Obviously I’m disappointed and pretty p****d off at the moment.

"We didn’t get the result needed and this is a results-based business which in my eyes makes this season a failure.

"We came up short and it’s obviously going to sting for a while.

"The season is an eight-month grind and a lot of time, sweat, and effort goes into it so to come away with nothing really hurts.

"I can say that the guys played hard this weekend and left it on the ice.

"It wasn’t from lack of effort or compete level that lost us these games.

"We will look at our roster very thoroughly the next week and see what core pieces we feel will help get us to where we want to be next year."

Some fans are challenging the notion that players were not committed enough.

They should perhaps know that Keeton Ellerby played last weekend with a broken hand and for several weeks Jonathan Phillips played despite rib and sternum fractures.

Tanner Eberle has had groin issues all year, Vojtech Polak a broken finger and Marco Vallerand's groin was never 100 percent after doing the splits into the boards at Glasgow Clan's rink in February.

Fans will have their own say on whether Matias Sointu was a good enough replacement for Anthony DeLuca, Antonin Boruta was for Daine Todd and Vojtech Polak was for Brendan Connolly.

But you can only bring in players who are available and nobody could have foreseen the catalogue of injuries that punctured the title and play offs dream.

Fox and others in Steelers' management will have to suffer the ignominy of attending the Nottingham finals this coming weekend without their team present.

The Semi-Finals are Belfast Giants v Dundee and Cardiff Devils v Guildford Flames.

It will be hard to watch. A more important date for Sheffield club personnel comes on the Thursday before, when Steelers' management meet to discuss the way forward.

They will probably seek to build on the likes of Robert Dowd, Martin Latal, Evan Mosey and Vallerand.

But, for now, Sheffield's elite season has been laid to rest, with hopefully brighter times to come.