Sheffield Steelers: Skipper talks importance of Eric Meland's return to front line

Eric Meland's return to a forward-playing role has helped Sheffield Steelers find their scoring rhythm.

Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 12:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 6:44 pm
Eric Meland celebrates

That's the view of skipper Jonathan Phillips, now the American utility man has been freed from a spell of defensive duties enforced by injuries to his team-mates.

The arrival of Mikko Kuukka and the return to fitness of Aaron Brocklehurst saw Sheffield look a stable unit at the back, while Meland was able to enjoy himself offensively in the wins at Fife Flyers and Dundee Stars, last weekend.

Meland, who scored 11 goals for Fehérvár AV19 in the Austrian Hockey League last term, has contributed 4+2 so far.

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“Now the reinforcements have arrived we have a full team and that makes a huge difference," said Phillips.

"Eric can return to forward lines and that adds a real punch."

Meland should be up front for Wednesday night's home encounter with Fife, whom they dismissed 10-3 in Kirkcaldy.

Phillips said: “I think we caught Fife on a bad night, we took advantage and took our chances.

“In both games this weekend I felt we had the physical advantage, teams were tiring against us towards the end of the second period, we were relentless.”

Steelers hope to carry on where they left off against Flyers, a midweek League game which should attract more than 6,000 fans, partly as tickets have been reduced to £5 for the night.

It will be interesting to see if goalie Tomas Duba is rested or again selected - he has a 89.89 per cent save ratio after 11 appearances, a goals against average of 2.64.

*Steelers go back on the road on Friday night, when they visit Manchester Storm in the Challenge Cup, hoping to do better than last time, when they lost 2-5, their second biggest loss of the season.

*League-wide statistics have confirmed Sheffield have scored more goals than any other EIHL side and more fans pack in the Fly DSA Arena than any other rival club.

Steelers are averaging 4.88 goals a game and attracting an average 6,196 crowd.

Their biggest crowd of the season was on the opening day, when 8,461 watched Aaron Fox's men overcome Nottingham Panthers 8-4.

Meanwhile Marc-Olivier Vallerand heads the EIHL league tables in both goals and points.