AS far as instincts go, Gerad Adams’s about signing forward Mathieu Roy for Elite League leaders Sheffield Steelers in the summer could not have proved any sharper.
The 28-year-old has proved a revelation since making the switch to the UK, playing a pivotal role in Steelers’ rise to the top of the regular season standings.
He currently tops the scoring charts too, having posted 23 goals and 27 assists in 33 appearances.
Ahead of the traditional festive double header against Nottingham Panthers – starting with today’s encounter at the Motorpoint Arena (4pm) – head coach Adams said he could not be happier with the form shown by his leading scorer.
“Mathieu was probably the player I spent the least time mulling over on whether I was going to sign him or not – it was almost an immediate ‘yes’ and he has been absolutely brilliant in all aspects of the game,” he said.
“His whole attitude, his approach to the game both on and off the ice is just first class – I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s a tremendous hockey player and I’m a big fan of him as a person and a player.”
Roy has formed a deadly top line for the Steelers this season, combining with team-mates Mike Forney and Colton Fretter to contribute 62 goals to the reigning play-off champions tally.
“He is one of the best players I have seen in a very long time within five feet of the net,” added Adams. “He is incredibly strong and his execution to put the puck in the net in that final little area is just top class.”
Ahead of the Boxing Day showdown with Nottingham, Adams’s team hold a nine-point advantage over their fiercest rivals, who endured a blank weekend last time out with defeats to Fife Flyers and Cardiff Devils. By contrast the Steelers stretched their winning league run to six games with two victories over Hull Stingrays.
In the four meetings between the two this season – two in the Challenge Cup – it is honours even, with the home side prevailing on every occasion.
And despite the loftier position currently being enjoyed by the Steelers, Adams acknowledges that will count for little later today.
“I don’t think it matters where the teams are in the league, or what happened the weekend before,” said Adams. “It’s all about this first game, what happens on the day and just wanting to beat your closest rival. I fully expect Nottingham to be in the running come the end of the season.”