SHEFFIELD STEELDOGS will look to build on the good work of last weekend when they head to Swindon Wildcats on Saturday night.
In the first part of a home double header, the South Yorkshire club came within a whisker of taking third-placed Peterborough to overtime before being denied in a 6-5 thriller.
They got their rewards, however, the following night when goals from Donatas Kumeliauskas, Arnoldas Bosas, Liam Charnock and Ben Morgan took Sunday night’s game into overtime and then a penalty shoot-out against Guildford Flames, with Stanislav Lascek hitting the winner.
Player-coach Greg Wood is pleased to be seeing progress in recent weeks, something he has attributed to mid-season arrivals in the forward ranks in the shape of Macauley Heywood and Lascek.
“The guys we’ve brought in over the past couple of months have really made a difference,” said Wood.
“We were a little light through the middle so bringing in two centre has really helped. It’s looking encouraging as we head towards the end of the season.”
Midweek saw Wood strengthen his ranks further by bringing in goaltender Stephen Fone, who found himself without a club following the sad demise of Manchester Phoenix.
Wood stressed that Fone will initially just be training with the club while James Hadfield and Brandon Stones remain ahead in the pecking order.
Once the 29-year-old Rotherham-born stopper is match-fit, however, Wood says he will come into contention to play.
“This isn’t about a problem with Jimmy and Brandon; this is an opportunity to strengthen that we can’t turn down,” said Wood. “To bring in a guy of Steve’s quality and experience at this time of the year is great.
“Steve has had a tough season, both on and off the ice so we will see how things go and I’ll decide how and when we involve him. I’ve known him for a long time and played on plenty of teams with him.
“He’s come through the juniors here, he knows a lot of guys on our team and he’ll fit right in.”
Wood hopes last weekend’s progress can be extended in Wiltshire on Saturday night, when he hopes his team can pick up his first points on the road against a Wildcats side comfortably sat one place above them in the standings.
Previous visits have seen the Steeldogs lose out 6-5 and 7-3, while Swindon won the most recent meeting between the two sides at Ice Sheffield 4-2 on January 15.
Sunday sees the Steeldogs head east to take on Yorkshire rivals Hull Pirates in the first leg of the revamped Bradfield Brewery Cup.
Jason Hewitt’s team, buoyed by a stirring 3-2 win at home to reigning champions Basingstoke Bison last Sunday, are without a league game this weekend.
The second leg will take place at Ice Sheffield on Friday, March 3.