Steelers winger Anthony DeLuca on staying cool under pressure

Taking a penalty shot in front of an ice hockey crowd of some 9,118 hushed fans is not a task for the faint-hearted.

Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 7:08 pm
Anthony Deluca scores against Guildford last weekend
Anthony Deluca scores against Guildford last weekend

But the coolest person in Sheffield Arena last week when a free skate and shot on goal was awarded by the officials was Anthony DeLuca.

The Steelers' winger displayed no signs of nerves as he weaved down the ice to shoot past Guildford Flames' netminder Travis Fullerton.

"I guess the pressure is all on you in that moment...and I love the pressure" said DeLuca, who has risen up the rankings to become the team's third leading scorer, with 21 goals and 20 assists (41 points in 43 EIHL games.)

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"You have got to put on a show for the fans from time to time and that's one of those times."

The 24-year-old skater said it was important to blossom on those occasions.

"I like to be that go-to guy and we have a lot of them on this team, so when I get my chance I just try to bear down on it."

DeLuca has played through pain lately but has pressed on saying: "We are running low on men, guys are stepping up, guys are doing their job, there are little 'achey' injuries here and there."

But the fact that home gates have risen to last Saturday's 9,000-plus clearly gives players extra motivation to strap on the skates.

The Canadian said: "To come to a European team and have that same effect (attracting huge fan numbers) is unbelievable.

"It is definitely not every team in Europe that can provide such great fans and we are just really grateful for those people showing up."

Meanwhile Brendan Connolly now leads team-scoring at the House of Steel.

He has scored 45 points in 44 games, 21 goals and 243 assists.

The iron-willed forward ended a point streak lasting 21 games in the win at Glasgow Clan last Sunday but will be hoping to be back on the scoreboard at third-placed Belfast Giants on Friday night.

Steelers have a night off on Saturday before hosting Clan on Sunday.

*Nottingham Panthers begin their IIHF Continental Cup Final campaign on Friday in Denmark.

It is a tournament that they won in 2017.

*Coventry Blaze are second only to Steelers in the goal-scoring column, despite being five places below them.

They out five past Cardiff Devils on New Years Day and four past Belfast last Sunday.