Sheffield Steelers' speed king Martin Látal desperate to go home with a medal

Martin Latal playing against Manchester StormMartin Latal playing against Manchester Storm
Martin Latal playing against Manchester Storm
Nobody needs to remind Martin Látal that he is closing on his second year at Sheffield Steelers and has yet to win silverware.

The Czech winger - at 35 possibly the fastest skater in Steeler's history - has twice been a champion in his homeland.

And he returned to South Yorkshire for a second year trying to do the same again.

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Sadly the EIHL League title and the Challenge Cup proved a step too far.

Martin LatalMartin Latal
Martin Latal

Now Sheffield will have to vault over Manchester Storm to get to the Play Off Finals weekend and try and send Látal home this summer with a winner's medal.

Summing up the 2022-23 campaign so far, the forward said: "I don't think we, from the beginning, looked as good as last year's team.

"But then we got going and we had a pretty good run and (then) a couple of bad games happened against lower teams like Fife (Flyers) and Manchester.

"We lost them and I think we lost the title there.

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Marc LefebvreMarc Lefebvre
Marc Lefebvre

"I am sad about it obviously - second year, no trophy yet, so it is hard, but hopefully we get the last one."

Látal explained that this year's team did not "click between each other as fast as last year, sometimes it takes time."

It was now down to the coach Aaron Fox to find the chemistry in the forward lines to achieve Play Off success.

The skater is optimistic that can happen.

Delving into his experience of other play off series earlier in his career he said the Sheffield team was ready to "dig in and do the right things and play play off hockey."

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Friday's visit to Manchester in the Quarter Final first leg was a hazardous place to go, and a rink that has caused Sheffield problems in the past.

"Playing there is always tricky and it is tough to play there, they are used to it. You have to dig in and we have won there a couple of times" said Látal.

Storm finished sixth in the regular season table.

But the winger said it didn't matter whether teams finished first or eighth, Play Offs were a "battle after battle."

Meanwhile, Marc Lefebvre, who iced 125 times for Sheffield and was briefly an assistant coach at the Arena in 2013-14, will be head coach and director of operations at Dundee Stars next season.

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The 40 year old, who scored 34 points for Steelers, ran Dundee's bench from 2015-17, leading them to back-to-back seventh-place finishes in the Elite League.

“I am extremely pleased to be back," he said.

“I jumped at the opportunity to take control of the Stars again and am looking forward to getting things going.

"For me hockey is about the playoffs, so our goal is to get in the top eight again, qualify for the playoffs and then go from there. Obviously, we want to win as many trophies as possible.”

Meanwhile, another former Steeler, Jason Hewitt, has re-signed for next year at Sheffield Steeldogs.

He will be joined by the likes of Ollie Turner, Matt Bissonnette and Vlads Vulkanovs.