Steelers’ coach aims to repay fans and owner

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RYAN Finnerty knows he is on a good thing tonight.

His Sheffield Steelers team take on Belfast Giants with an extra import sitting the game out; an unusual display of financial clout at a grim economic time when clubs like Coventry Blaze and Hull Stingrays are battling grave cash concerns.

But the player-coach knows that the privilege brings with it expectation...and pressure. He said: “I am grateful for the support our owner (Tony Smith) has given me and of the fans who are coming to the rink in decent numbers.

Signing Luke Fulghum and Francis Trudel and having a spare import almost makes me feel like I have a new team” said Finnerty, who also has Jonathan Phillips back from long term knee issues. “The extra import gives us a new dimension and with that a lot more pressure. We wanted to win all three trophies before, now more people will be demanding that. But we wouldn’t want it any other way and I am confident that we can pay back Tony and the fans with some trophies.”

Tonight’s game, and the other two weekend fixtures (Coventry away, Sat, Braehead home, Sun) will present another opportunity for Phillips to regain match fitness after returning to the ice. The winger said: “I was a little nervous in the first couple of shifts last weekend but once I’d taken and given a couple of hits I forgot all about it. The knee feels strong, I have the brace that will remain on it until I stop playing. As soon as the game ended I iced it and a few people turned their heads as if to say ‘are you OK?’ But it was only a precaution. I woke the next day with no reaction. It feels stronger than it did when I returned last year, I certainly have a lot more confidence in it and feel I can go full out.”