JASON HEWITT has admitted that Sheffield Steelers’ Challenge Cup final first leg defeat to Nottingham Panthers was a result that let their coach down.
Ryan Finnerty’s job security appears to be linked to the side winning at least one trophy -owner Tony Smith revealed that to The Star before Wednesday’s 4-1 collapse.
And it is possible there could be a clear-house policy to the playing staff, too, if Sheffield don’t rescue something extraordinary from the remaining season.
Winger Hewitt, speaking on video at thestar.co.uk, said of his coach: “We probably let him down if I’m honest and put him in a bad position. But it’s not just Finner’s job, it’s all our jobs, nobody is safe, as he (Smith) said.
“So, I mean, without being rude, forget what Tony said, we have to do it for ourselves in that room and have some pride in ourselves and try and get this Challenge Cup for all of us.”
Steelers had billed Wednesday night as an opportunity for “redemption” over the League champions.
But Hewitt said: “We spotted them a three goal lead going into the second leg, and we did it by being in the (penalty) box a lot. The emotions were pretty high, but it is just disappointing, we should have done a lot better.
“We don’t blame the ref by any means. We gave him decisions to make and he made them. They went against us, but, we almost self destructed.”
Sheffield have struggled for goals this campaign. And the GB forward said of their duel with stubborn Panthers’ netminder Craig Kowalski: “He is a good goalie; we need to put 40-plus shots on him when we play against them, but we can’t get shots on him when we are in the box.”
Steelers have two effectively dead-rubber league games this weekend, against Hull Stingrays and Belfast Giants.
But the 29-year-old Mancunian said: “They may be meaningless in points and in the standings but we have to build for the play-offs, we saw what happened last year when we weren’t ready for the play-offs and didn’t make the final weekend which again was a disappointing time in our season.
“But we have to play well this weekend and build for the next weekend.
“Hopefully we get through the play-offs and concentrate on Nottingham again.”
Hewitt isn’t known as a goalscorer, and hasn’t hit the net in the last 14 games, and the ‘British Bulldog’ has been frank enough to admit he’s “not happy” with his form.
“A couple of niggly injuries have affected me all year but no excuses, the work is there maybe I’m not getting the bounces I have in previous years,” he said.