SHEFFIELD Steelers’ head coach Doug Christiansen is excited about his return to the helm in South Yorkshire after taking time off on compassionate leave following the sudden death of his father.
The 35-year-old was forced to return home to the United States in late October after his father Keith passed away.
In the five games played during his absence, third-placed Steelers have stumbled somewhat in the Elite League, swapping wins with both Fife, and Coventry, while also losing out to Braehead Clan for the second time at home this season.
But the Milwaukee-born coach is back behind the bench this weekend, leading his team over to Coventry’s Skydome Arena before hosting former club Belfast Giants tomorrow (5pm), where he will hope to see his players repeat the 2-1 victory they enjoyed over their rivals on home ice on October 20.
“My dad was a massive influence on me and my career, and he was everything that I wanted to be,” said Christiansen.
“It’s been the worst time of my life, but we are an extremely close family which has helped.”
Christiansen returned to Sheffield on Friday morning in time to take the scheduled training session with his players.
“It was great to see them,” said Christansen. “It has obviously been a tough couple of weeks but now I’m excited to be getting back into it.”
Christiansen expects Coventry to come out strong tonight, particularly given their exit from the Challenge Cup after Wednesday night’s 5-2 defeat at Hull Stingrays.
“Their only focus now is the league after Wednesday and I think that will be a big motivator for them,” he added.