With the end of the regular season drawing nearer and nearer, the chances of the Sheffield Steelers getting their hands on a back to back championship title appear to be as slim as they were this time last year.
Again it seemed the Braehead Clan find themselves sat in pole position. However failing to win their games in hand would mean the race for the trophy was flung wide open again.
Cardiff who have been in first place for the large majority of the 2015/2016 season are hoping to claim their first Elite League title. Acquiring the services of Ryan Russell, brother of NHL’er Kris Russell, shows just how far the Welsh outfit have come on since the turmoil not so long ago.
It has without a doubt been one of the most competitive and exciting seasons as far as competition for points as well as league positions, the Elite Ice Hockey League has seen since its opening.
As for the Sheffield Steelers it’s been a year thwarted by injuries to key men such as Great Britain sensation Robert Dowd, one of, if not the best sniper in the league Colton Fretter as well as other major blows to goalie Marek Pinc and tough guy Guillaume Desbiens. To throw another name into the mix only last Saturday the Steelers lost assistant captain Zach Fitzgerald to a broken hand as even more salt was rubbed into an open wound.
Where performances and points are concerned the reigning champions have been a side that very much relied on home form especially through the middle stages of the season. Branded as ‘a bunch of homers’
by their coach following a dismal display in Cardiff this title has followed the side throughout the campaign.
True? Yes. Harsh? No.
It’s unlike Paul Thompson to shy away from the truth and what he said that night in Cardiff was fully understandable. As tough of a place as the Big Blue Tent is to play in, this season it seemed like they team never even showed up to an away fixture vs the Devils.
Injuries and refereeing displays aside, performances away from the House of Steel have simply been pathetic at times. If the Steelers are serious about recreating the heroics of the last season they will have to find a way of pulling out displays that champions would be expected to produce