Opportunity knocks at Steelers for Lawrence

Sheffield Steelers' head coach Paul Thompson.
Sheffield Steelers' head coach Paul Thompson.
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PAUL THOMPSON hasn’t ruled out a longer spell at Sheffield Steelers for shunned forward Chris Lawrence.

The 28-year-old Canadian was parachuted in by Thompson as injury cover just 24 hours before Wednesday night’s 5-4 defeat after a shoot-out to Edinburgh Capitals at Ice Sheffield.

After a not-too-promising start – Lawrence was in the penalty box for elbowing when the visitors scored their early powerplay opener – the former AHL forward sparked into life in the third period, scoring two goals that helped earn the Steelers a point from what was a hugely disappointing night.

Lawrence arrived in South Yorkshire following a summer switch to Thompson’s former club Coventry Blaze from Nottingham Panthers.

But a return of just one assist in nine games saw Lawrence jettisoned early by Blaze coach Chuck Weber, with Thompson stepping in to snatch up a player who scored 63 points – including 25 goals – for the Panthers, who the Steelers visit tonight in the Challenge Cup.

Now, it seems, Lawrence – a third round draft pick for Tampa Bay Lightning in 2005, without ever making it to ‘the show’ – has an opportunity to salvage his season, with Thompson citing the positive impact scoring again had on the player.

“He came in here with the big reputation – he got 25 goals or something in Nottingham and got himself a big contract at Coventry,” said Thompson, who read the riot act to his team after what he considered a poor display against Edinburgh.

“But it didn’t work out for him. He’d been off the ice for about nine days before he came to us and when that happens your timing totally goes.

“So I was expecting it to take a while for Chris to get into the game and I could see he was low on confidence. But as soon as he got that first goal, he sparked into life – without Chris’s two goals, we don’t get a point.

“It’s early days for him with us – he’s here for a couple of weeks and we’ll see where that goes.”

Thompson expects better at the National Ice Centre tonight, although the Panthers will be gunning for revenge after the Steelers pipped them 2-1 at Sheffield Arena last Saturday.

“We have to put it right at the weekend and understand what we did wrong,” added Thompson.

Tomorrow night sees former Steelers’ player and coach Ryan Finnerty make his first visit of the season to South Yorkshire with Braehead Clan, last year’s regular season runners-up.

We were all disappointed with the performance on Wednesday I think.

And I’m not the kind of coach who is going to dress things up, our fans saw a very below-par performance from our players against Edinburgh.

We had too many players who weren’t even close to their normal level

But we’ve got a good bunch of professionals here and they were distraught after that game.

Edinburgh are a good team, they came with a gameplan and they executed it and we helped them do that.

“We have to put it right at the weekend and understand what we did wrong.

“Everybody was shocked with the performance. I’ve always said that if the performance is there then the right result is usually not too far behind, but we weren’t even close on Wednesday.

We got what we deserved.

I know we will get back to where we were before trhe Edinburgh game.

We’ve just hit a bit of an injuury problem at this stage, but it’s the same for everybody - Edinburgh turned up at ours wioth four imports missing and still beat us so we won’t look for excuses and we’ll move on.

But we’ve got to be positive and make sur we’re ready to take on the Panthers

Chris Lawrence: