Sheffield Steelers’ swift return to the ice welcomed by Mike Ratchuk

Sheffield Steelers' Mike Ratchuk. Picture: Dean Woolley
Sheffield Steelers' Mike Ratchuk. Picture: Dean Woolley
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MIKE RATCHUK believes a quick turnaround will benefit Sheffield Steelers as they prepare to bounce back from an opening loss in their Champions Hockey League campaign.

The Steelers left Sweden yesterday morning after going down 5-3 in their Group P opener to HV71 Jonkoping the previous evening.

Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Paul Thompson, on the bench against HV71 Jonkoping. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Paul Thompson, on the bench against HV71 Jonkoping. Picture: Dean Woolley.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Elite League champions, who despite matching their more illustrious opponents when at full-strength, suffered whenever their hosts found themselves on the powerplay.

Three of HV71’s goals came on the man advantage, with a fourth on a delayed penalty call, leaving Steelers’ head coach Paul Thompson a frustrated figure at the end of the night.

But defenceman Ratchuk, whose goal late in the second period dragged the Steelers back to 3-2 down on Thursday night, believes tonight’s visit to Red Bull Salzburg provides an ideal opportunity for the South Yorkshire club to hit back from their earlier disappointment at the 7,000-seater Kinnarps Arena.

“I thought that, as a group, we played phenomenal,” said 28-year-old Ratchuk, who made the switch to Sheffield during the summer.

Sheffield Steelers' Zack Fitzgerald blocks a shot against HV71 Jonkoping. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Sheffield Steelers' Zack Fitzgerald blocks a shot against HV71 Jonkoping. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“We learned a lot more about each other and the big positive for me is that a lot of the mistakes we made against HV71 are ones that we can fix in time for Saturday night.

“I think our ability to come back on several occasions like we did on Thursday night shows our attitude and our team identity for the year.

“We fought the whole game and never had a quitters mentality. We kept bouncing back, but they are a good team.”

While Steelers’ are the poor relations to their group rivals when it comes to budget and pre-season preparation time, New York-born Ratchuk is confident the team will pose more of a threat as the competition goes on.

“We’re only going to get stronger and better as a team and we need to make sure we are for the next game on Saturday,” he added. “It’s a quick turnaround for us which is better for us as a group. It would be a bit tougher mentally if we had to wait a week or so for the next one, so we just need to bounce back and show our resilience and be ready to go in Salzburg.”