Conditioning proving crucial to Sheffield Steelers' ability to raise their game

IF Sheffield Steelers' players thought a full week between games was going to buy them much downtime, they should probably think again.

GAME ON: Sheffield Steelers' Rob Dowd battles for possession against Dundee on Saturday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.
GAME ON: Sheffield Steelers' Rob Dowd battles for possession against Dundee on Saturday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Having taken yesterday to get over their exertions from a comfortable, yet still impressive 4-0 win over Dundee Stars at Sheffield Arena on Saturday night, Tom Barrasso will have his team back at it early this morning in preparation for what comes next.

That ‘what’ is the visit of Guildford Flames on Saturday night, bringing an end to a run of four straight home games for the Steelers, who have won the three so far.

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What pleased Barrasso most about the latest offering from his players, was their ability and willingness to skate hard for a full 60 minutes.

Tom Barrasso

Since his arrival almost three weeks ago, one of Barrasso’s chief aims was to improve the conditioning of his players, something he saw evidence of against Omar Pacha’s side. More of the same can be expected in practice this week.

“I like our conditioning level and I like our conditioning level to compete against anyone in this league right now,” said Barrasso.

“It has really been the focus for us for these past three weeks and it will be a big focus for us during this coming week, just so we can keep getting in better condition in order to skate teams hard like we did against Dundee.”

The hosts took the lead against Dundee with just over eight minutes gone, when Justin Buzzeo was presented with the simplest of tap-ins. The Steelers doubled their lead at 14.59 through Jonas Westerling’s short-handed strike when Jonathan Phillips’s precision pass presented him with a 1-on-1.

BREAKAWAY: Jonas Westerling pokes the puck through the legs of the Dundee goaltender for a short-handed strike on Saturday. Picture: Dean Woolley.

After a goalless second period, the Steelers pushed home their advantage, a Josh Pitt power play strike at 52.27 being followed by Phillips’s marker just under three minutes later.

“The most positive thing is the way we played for 60 minutes,” added Barrasso. “We’ve had glimpses of us being a good team for 20 minutes at a time, but we put together a pretty solid 60-minute game against Dundee.”