Steelers stars respond to drop in energy levels

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It is been business as usual in training for Sheffield Steelers this week.

Intensity levels had markedly dropped on practice ice recently, a flaw which cost them two points against Hull Stingrays.

With title-defining dates at Belfast Giants and Nottingham Panthers looming this weekend, a lapse in preparation simply cannot happen again.

Steelers’ terrier centreman Jason Hewitt - the outstanding success story of Sheffield’s season - admitted: “Our intensity did drop in practice and we carried that on into our two last games. We had a meeting at the beginning of this week. While we don’t dwell on our disappointments, we sorted a few things out, then went out and had a good skate. We’ve picked it up again. But then again if we don’t we’ll get destroyed in Belfast.”

Hewitt said the emphasis was on going back to a hockey doctrine of taking the body, keeping the game simple - and staying out of the penalty box.

“The frustration had begin to build up and generally we were being indisciplined” he said.

“That is something we cannot repeat this weekend if we are to be successful.”

The players set off from Sheffield to Manchester airport at 6am on Saturday for the flight to Northern Ireland. At 9am the following day they head back to the mainland, and travel straight to Nottingham.

“It will be a tiring schedule, but we had a stint a while ago of about five games in seven nights and we played our best hockey. A wins at both rinks is do-able, definitely.”

Belfast, who are expected to close the gap on Steelers to three points tonight when they entertain Hull, are some people’s favourites to pinch the title off Sheffield. They are the form team of the division with 10 straight wins under their belts.