ASHLEY TAIT says “low maintenance” fellow forward Steve Goertzen has been a welcome addition to Coventry Blaze’s roster this season.
The pair return to former club Sheffield Steelers tonight (7pm) for a Challenge Cup encounter Blaze need to win more than their hosts, having lost three of their four Group B games so far.
Veteran Tait, now in the second year of his second spell with Blaze, has been impressed with the impact of 30-year-old Goertzen since he arrived at the Skydome, the Canadian already racking up nine points, including three goals, in 10 appearances.
A return to the Motorpoint Arena tonight is nothing new for Tait, who played for the Steelers during two spells in 2007-2009 and 2010-2013, before returning to the club he captained to the treble in 2004-05.
But it will be team-mate Goertzen’s first return to the club he captained to the play-off championship in Nottingham at the end of last season.
“The first time you go back to a former club is almost surreal, as the game almost passes you by,” said Tait. “I’ve gone back to Sheffield a few times, but it will be something new for Steven.
“But since he came in, he’s impressed. We spoke before he came and, after his success in Sheffield and completing his studies, I think he just wanted to enjoy his hockey.
“He’s not a high maintenance kind of guy and he’s fitted right in. He comes, in does his job very well and off he goes again.”
The Steelers – missing defenceman Mark Thomas through injury – will end their Cup fixtures with a trip to Hull Stingrays tomorrow (6pm).
Gerad Adams’s team won 6-3 when the two teams met in their first Group B encounter at Ice Sheffield on Wednesday.
Before they play host to Sheffield in an attempt to gain swift revenge, Hull first head to South Wales to take on Cardiff Devils, also in the Cup, with player-coach Omar Pacha keen for his team to be tighter at the back end.
Pacha is still missing with his broken arm – a return for October 18 is pencilled in – while Canadian forward Zach Hervato, also absent for the midweek defeat in Sheffield, is again unlikely to feature.
“We are lprobably going to be two imports down in Cardiff, so we will need to play a smart road game,” said Pacha.
“We got a point down there at the start of the season and if we play with the same mindset, don’t waste too much energy and be patient we can get something again.”
Sunday night’s rematch with the Steelers will give Hull chance to end their woeful home record of played five, lost five.
“We want to break our home streak and there is no better place to start than against a quality team like Sheffield,” he added.
“We did really well for 40 minutes in Sheffield on Wednesday, but we conceded some preventable goals so we need to be stronger defensively.”