More intense training sessions are behind improved Sheffield Steelers’ form, reveals Robert Dowd

Robert Dowd in the thick of it. Picture: Al Goold (
Robert Dowd in the thick of it. Picture: Al Goold (

Goal hero Robert Dowd says Steelers are reaping the rewards of more dynamic training sessions, under Tom Barrasso.

Since he took over the reins, Sheffield have won seven out of the last nine games, and on Sunday took the scalp of Fife Flyers, who are a second-placed team.

Dowd, who scored four goals at Kirkcaldy, says Barrasso has made a "good impact" since taking over from Paul Thompson, who resigned after mixed results.

"He has got us on the same page, we are all going in the same direction," said the winger.

"We are keeping to his systems which are nice and simple - direct hockey which is something me and the others like to play.”

Dowd added: “There are not massive differences (between Tom and Thommo) just subtle ones.

"I suppose the most obvious one is that practices are a lot more intense.

"Tom runs really intense sessions - they are all like that. And that is paying dividends."

Dowd says there are also similarities between Barrasso and former coach Doug Christiansen: "They are very systematic. Both liked their teams to be very well drilled and know the game well."

The player went through dark times when he re-injured his shoulder in the second game of the domestic season.

"It was an awful frustration," he said. "In hindsight, maybe I came back a week too soon, but if you are told you are fit to play I will always play."

He said it had been a mutual decision to return to the ice between him and backroom staff.

And after a barren period, he has now scored seven goals in four games.

Referring to his four-goal salvo in Scotland, he said: "It was great, after the start I'd had to the season. I had been fighting to catch up, but in the last couple of weekends, it's gone well.

"The important thing is that you can tell confidence is growing and we are starting to put a few wins together."

Two of his power play goals were assisted by Ben O'Connor, who returned to the Steelers’ fold in October and has been in astonishing form since.

"I was excited when I heard he might be coming back and pleased when it happened.

"Not only is he an extremely gifted player, but he is also one of my best friends. It is nice to have him home."