Steelers’ tartan mission is vital to league dream

Ice chips: Ashley Tait, right, with builder Mark Dawson at the Belfry.
Ice chips: Ashley Tait, right, with builder Mark Dawson at the Belfry.
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STEELERS will tonight discover whether they have fully addressed issues with their form as they take on the dangerous Braehead Clan in Glasgow.

Sheffield have struggled against top teams like Nottingham Panthers and Belfast Giants lately and accept they should have biggger-margin victories against bottom of the table sides.

This evening they take on a fifth-place Clan side that has won their last six games - inclding road wins at Coventry and Cardiff - and only lost to Belfast before that after a penalty shoot out.

Sheffield forward Mike Ramsay is under no illusion the size of the task as Steelers use up one of their four games in hand over leaders Giants.

“They are a really good team with great players like Jade Galbraith, Mike Bayrack and Jordan Krestanovich.

“I didn’t play last time at Braehead through injury but from the bench I could see how their top line can be really dangerous. They have an effective Power Play (second best at home in the League) too and there is a good atmosphere at the rink. In (James) Jorgensen they have a solid defenceman too.”

Galbraith has been named as the Elite League Player of the Week; he scored five of the 10 Clan goals in last weekend’s wins over Coventry and is currently 18 points clear in the overall Elite League points scoring race.

“Defensively I think we are coming together,” said Ramsay. Forwards could always do better in helping out the ‘D’ but I think we are all supporting each other better now than we were earlier in the season.”

Jonathan Phillips, who dressed in his 500th all-time EIHL competitive game on Tuesday, will lead the side into battle this evening.

Steelers’ goalie John DeCaro, rested on Tuesday, is currently the League’s best performer with a 92.5 per cent saver rate.

He has conceded 89 goals in 37 league games.

Tony Smith, owner of the Steelers, will discuss club events with fans at the Holiday Inn, Rotherham, on Monday.

He will bring them up to date on the contractual future of coach Ryan Finnerty - who The Star has revealed is expected to stay for a second season - and other top performers.

Steelers are becoming commercial partners with the Belfry restaurant, re-opening on March 19 following a lavish £400,000 refurbishment.

Players will help celebrate the re-opening at the Eckington Road, Beighton base on March 30 – the evening before their first play-off game.

Assistant coach Ashley Tait said: “Hockey players can smell a new Steak Restaurant at 20 miles and this one is just a mile from my house, so I’ll keeping an eye out for when it opens.”

The refurbishmnent has created 30 jobs.