When you think of last season’s epic play off game winning goal you think Robert Dowd and Levi Nelson, don’t you?
Think who is the most exciting combination of wingers in the British league...I’ve guessed it.
You are thinking of Dowd and Nelson aren’t you.
I knew it.
But what about the glue that holds Dowdy and Levi Nelson together, his name is Andreas Valdix.
Swedish centreman Valdix took some of the limelight on New Year’s Day in Manchester scoring the game winning penalty shot but in reality, we should all be applauding him for allowing the dynamic duo to create the magic and havoc they do, week in, week out.
“He is certainly the unsung hero,” says head coach Paul Thompson.
“I think it’s fair to say that he is so unselfish in the role he plays with Dowdy and Levi.
“I think on any other line and on any other team he would personally have better, more offensive numbers. He sacrifices his own offence for the good of his line mates and his team.
“We are lucky to have #75 and #76 playing as they do, scoring goals, upsetting opponents.
“When they are on we all enjoy watching them. Those two excite us all,” continued the Steelers boss
“However, take Andreas off that line and we could see some trouble. Remember the big goal that wins the play offs? Well it’s Valdix who breaks the play up and gives the puck to Levi.
“He plays a more defensive role because the other two can create so much offensive together and have great chemistry.”
Valdix is in his second year with the Steelers and his role is certainly appreciated by his line mates: “I think Thommo’s car would go missing if he took Vally off our line,” says Dowd.
“I know people talk about the relationship Levi and I have together and that’s nice but we know the work that Andreas does both on and off the puck, we both love the guy to bits.
“We see ourselves as a line of three. Put it this way if we were the Bee Gees he is Barry Gibb, he is the main man, we are his backing singers not the other way around.”
Nelson agreed: “I hear people saying me and Dowdy this, or Dowdy and I that. Hell, its Vally, Dowdy and me every step of the way. Could we play without him, sure yes. Would we be the same, hell no! The three of us have chemistry and right now that’s helping the team and that is all any of us want.”
New Years Day for me was like going back to my Solihull Barons days in the 80s. We had an old time hockey coach called Archie Henderson. We played Mike O’Connor’s Durham Wasps one night. Archie disappeared with a couple of cold buckets of water and chucked them over the away dressing rooms floor. We were all kids back then, thought it was funny, thought it would make a difference. It was a bush stunt we did in a bush league.
This is 2018. The EIHL is a professional league. It has many faults but the respect between teams, coaches and players holds pretty firm. We have moved on miles from those whacky days in the 80s, or so I had thought.
I arrived in Manchester a little early and needed to pay a visit. I walked to the away dressing. Clean, cold and dry. Perfectly acceptable. I then went back to the warm car to await the team who arrived shortly afterwards. When we then all arrived back at the dressing rooms we walked into a soaking wet room with buckets of cold water poured all over the floor, the heaters had been removed as well.
Now denials came from every area. Rink staff, Manchester officials and team members. Now we all knew who had done it, could we prove it? Of course not, but we knew and we know.
Paul Thompson rightfully ordered the players back to the bus. No team should have to put up with that treatment, especially one that had filled their rink giving them their biggest pay day.
It was a bush league stunt and bang out of order. We do however thank them in a funny way. There was no need for a team talk and from the moment we walked back in to a dryer room after great work from the rink staff, we were never losing that game.
This coming from a club who had the audacity to call us “Drama Queens” in their own official pre game build- up.