Simmsey’s Steelers column: Sheffield ice hockey team’s new signings settling in well

Evan McGrath
Evan McGrath
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I think the one of the ingredients we hoped our new Steelers side would have was grit, some call it character, some desire.

Well after weekend one I think we can tick that box.

Last weekend’s performances showed this team does not lack the appetite for hard work and players were prepared to stand up for one another.

After just one week on the ice the ‘New Generation’ put in a fantastic display against Leksands to beat the Swedish giants 3-2 – revenge was forthcoming 24 hours later in a penalty-filled Sunday defeat.

Over the two days though I think most felt satisfied with this early display as they walked to their car for the drive home from iceSheffield.

Evan McGrath showed just why Paul Thompson had waited so long to sign him.

A goal and two assists on Saturday proved what a class act we have centring our first unit alongside Jordan Owens and Robert Dowd.

Did McGrath lose a face off all night? I’m not so sure he did.

When you lose a player like Ervins Mustukovs you are always anxiously awaiting such an important replacement.

No need to be anxious, Jackson Whistle played 60 minutes on Saturday and 30 the night after, he was strong, solid and in control making many fine saves.

There was pressure on Whistle, lots of it and he knew it.

The response he gave was calm and assured, he showed he is more than good enough to lead the Steelers this year.

This weekend the temperature is turned up even higher with SHL side Timra visiting.

This is a club of the same standard as HV 71 and Frolunda who we played in the Champions League.

Timra were promoted last year, this is an important part of their training camp and they won’t be holding anything back.

Steelers picked up a couple of injuries last weekend. But nothing to be overly concerned about in the long-run, I’m sure.

Robert Dowd looked sharp and hungry on the McGrath, Owens line.

Those two boys will certainly get Dowdy the puck in good scoring positions, if he can remain in that form then the Steelers will be obtaining their season regular 25 goals plus from the ‘Golden Child.’

Talking of kids, Messrs, Brown, Griffin and the younger Whistle brother all saw valuable ice time.

Whistle and Brown are fighting for that final fourth line slot whilst 16-year-old Griffin will spend time training with the Steelers but will surely go out on loan to find game minutes.

All of them did a great job last week and more of the same will be asked this Saturday and Sunday against better opposition.

Thompson wanted a bigger defence, meaner and smarter. He seems to have achieved this.

Matheson and Phillips we knew about but Johnson, Martinelli, McFadden and Gula all seem to have fitted in very nicely.

Ryan Martinelli certainly made a name for himself with some big hits and a fight last weekend.

Johnson looks as smooth as the NHL clips on YouTube suggested.

McFadden can fly and big George (Jiri Gula) looks rock solid.

Those six in front of Jackson Whistle will be looking to be as mean and tight as possible this weekend and the 32 that follow it.

I think most expect two defeats this coming weekend, there will be heads rolling in Sweden if that isn’t the case.

The point of camp for us is to get fit, play hard against top opposition so we are ready for whatever faces us in Nottingham in three weeks time.

Leksands was the perfect start, Timra now is a super serious side. Whilst we will enjoy their skill and speed we want our boys to match them with desire, guts and commitment. If they do then we will drive home happy on Sunday night once more.