Brooks' dream Sheffield Steelers' start quickly forgotten as pressure grows on coach Paul Thompson

THERE are ways of introducing yourself to your new club's fans '“ and then there is the Brendan Brooks way of introducing yourself to your new club's fans.

BAD START: Jiri Gula tries to stop Stephen Dixon putting cardiff Devils ahead at Sheffield Arena on Sunday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.
BAD START: Jiri Gula tries to stop Stephen Dixon putting cardiff Devils ahead at Sheffield Arena on Sunday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Having signed for Sheffield Steelers on Thursday afternoon, the 39-year-old forward found himself on an aeroplane from Canada throughout most of Friday night.

Nine hours after arriving at Manchester Airport at around 10am on Saturday, the GB international was making his debut for the Steelers a few miles down the road at Altrincham Ice Dome as they took on the Manchester Storm in the Challenge Cup.

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With a little over 15 seconds to go, it looked as though the Steelers were going to give up another point in Group A having previously lost to Nottingham Panthers and, the previous weekend, in overtime to the Storm.

But Brooks popped up to slot home a precious winner, showing the kind of knack for scoring that had made him such a prized asset for the Glasgow Clan during 2017-18 when he scored 32 goals in a 62-point haul from 60 games.

However, a little under 24 hours later, Brooks and his new team-mates were brought crashing back down to earth with a bump when he made his home debut at Sheffield Arena against defending Elite League champions Cardiff Devils.

Given the stuttering start to the season the Steelers have endured – on the back of 16 new faces been brought in by head coach Paul Thompson – there will not have been too many expecting the home team to come out on top against Andrew Lord’s side.

And so it proved, the Steelers hammered 6-2, a result always likely after finding themelseves 4-0 down inside the opening 14 minutes.

MIXED BAG: Brendan Brooks scored a late, late winner on his debut at Manchester Storm, but suffered along with the rest of his Sheffield Steelers' team-mates against Cardiff on Sunday. Picture: Dean Woolley.

It’s a result which will have done nothing to alleviate the growing pressure on Thompson, who has been the subject of some stinging criticism from a section of fans – particularly on social media – in the past couple of weeks.

Stephen Dixon inflicted the first blow when he pounced at 4.25, the lead doubled less than two minutes later by Craig Moore.

With Jordan Owens in the penalty box on a hooking call, Cardiff extended their lead with a power play strike at 7.37 from Layne Ulmer. That brought the withdrawal of goaltender Jackson Whistle with the Steelers later revealing he had been ill prior to the game.

It got worse for the Steelers at 13.03 when Bryce Reddick struck, and, although Josh Pitt reduced the deficit at 16.36, Cardiff pulled away from their hosts again with a second period strike from Joey Martin and, at 37.38, a second for Dixon.

UNDER PRESSURE: Paul Thompson's cause was not helped by Sunday's 6-2 defeat to Cardiff Devils at home. Picture; Dean Woolley.

Jonathan Phillips scored a third-period consolation for the Steelers, but it mattered little.

HOME START: Forward Brendan Brooks endured a tough home debut as Sheffield Steelers crashed 6-2 against defending Elite League champions, Cardiff Devils. Picture: Dean Woolley.