EIHL Weekend: Are Steelers the real deal?

It’s fair to say Sheffield Steelers aren’t wasting any time in racking up the wins and points in the early part of the season, but can we interpret it as statement of intent?

Aaron Fox’s men have made an impressive start to the season in both competitions and while they had to grind out results this weekend, this team are on a mission.

Considering how 2019/20 ended in the wake of the pandemic, denying them the chance to go head to head with Cardiff Devils for the league title and missing out on the Elite Series in April, the need to success will be strong.

Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win over Nottingham Panthers would been every bit as welcomed as much as it was greeted with a sigh of relief.

Steelers came from behind to beat Nottingham on Saturday (PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

They went 2-0 down in the opening five minutes.  Did they panic?  No, of course not.  They played their way back into the game and Tanner Eberle got the goal that pulled them back.

From there they kicked on, with Robert Dowd and Marc Olivier Vallerand putting them in front and while Christophe Boivin levelled, it needed overtime to seal the deal, with Eberle, back unexpectedly after injury to score the winner.

Games like that can expel more energy than is needed so a trip to Dundee Stars on Sunday was maybe not ideal, but once more, they did enough.

Early goals from Dowd and Adrian Saxrud Danielsen proved to be enough as Steelers left Scotland with two points, despite Connor Sills getting one back for Dundee.

While a pleasing weekend, they did show they are capable of showing different traits when the occasion calls for it and the fact they’ve come out of both games with full points shows the character they have and need.

“We were up early after a tough game last night (Saturday) and the guys brought it for 60,” Steelers coach Aaron Fox told Dundee Stars TV post game on Sunday.

“We put some goals on the board on the first night then had to play a bit more of a defensive effort on the road and take care of our own end.

“We had other opportunities to score, such as three breakaways and the powerplay let us down – we didn’t score on a five-on-three that could have put the game away.”

Fox admits there are slight areas to work on, highlighting the lack of sharpness in his powerplay, but we are only a few weeks into a new season and rhythms are still to be found.

Are they the real deal though?  You have to say they are, but with quality throughout the league and some of the impressive players Cardiff Devils and Belfast Giants have in their ranks, it’s certainly not going to be a foregone conclusion for a long time.

“I’ll have a cup of what Betteridge has had” (PHOTO: Panthers Images)

OTHER TALKING POINTS

  • What has Ollie Betteridge being taking in his tea?  Eight points from six games so far in both competitions for Nottingham Panthers this season.  Scoring at least a point in five of his six games and three this weekend, he’s on a hot streak right now and has become something of a dependable figure for Tim Wallace right now.
  • Speaking of things in beverages, the same can be said of Fife Flyers and that 8-0 smashing of Manchester Storm on Sunday, especially on the back of a 5-0 thrashing to the same team the night before.  What a result and finally, the Fife fans have something to hang their hat on.  Storm however have a lot to ponder.
  • That’s three games now on Premier Sports where we’ve seen plenty of goals and drama and whoever came up with the schedule has played a blinder so far.  Coventry and Belfast served up another Sunday night treat for us all.  We can’t wait for Cardiff and Manchester on Sunday now.