TOM BARRASSO planned to drag his under-performing Sheffield Steelers’ players back out on to the ice today in an effort to get them to raise their ‘compete level’.
The Steelers’ head coach had originally planned for his team to concentrate on off-ice preparations but, given their worrying performance in a 6-1 home loss to Glasgow Clan on Wednesday night, that particular schedule has been scrapped.
For the second time in three weeks and the third time since the turn of the year, the Steelers shipped six goals in front of their own fans, twice now at the hands of Pete Russell’s impressive Clan team.
Barrasso had spent the days leading up this week’s visit from Glasgow hammering home to his players what they needed to do in order to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment they suffered at the hands of the Scottish club on January 26.
But the Steelers never recovered from going down 2-0 down inside 10 minutes in front of a 7,000-strong crowd, pockets of which let out boos at the end of a second period which had seen the Clan increase their lead to 6-0.
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The Steelers only had a wonderful solo, wraparound effort from captain Jonathan Phillips to show for their efforts early in the third period on an otherwise forgettable, miserable night which left Barrasso scratching his head.
“Obviously we were not prepared to play,” said Barrasso, in an attempt to share some of the blame for Wednesday night’s performance. “We had talked for the last two days about how they had embarrassed us the last time they were in this building and that we needed to have a response to that - but that clearly didn’t sink in or get through to the players.
“We did some very peculiar things. We’d been playing pretty well over this last stretch, especially defensively, but then in the first period there were gaping holes in our D zone coverage for very easy goals against us and that is probably the most frustrating aspect of it.
“Before the game I told them I wanted two things: I wanted us to compete and I wanted us to skate - we didn’t do either, so obviously I hadn’t prepared them properly for the task.
“We had originally had Thursday planned where we would probably just have done some off-ice stuff and get some rest, but, now, as a result of that performance, we will be back on the ice and we will be competing against each other because we didn’t do much of that against Glasgow.”
To compound the Steelers’ misery, other results also went against them on Wednesday night, most notably Coventry’s 3-1 win at Nottingham - their first at the NIC since 2016 - which dragged Danny Stewart’s team up to the eighth and final play-off spot, just two points behind Barrasso’s team.
The Blaze visit Sheffield Arena on Saturday night and also have four games in hand on sixth-placed Steelers, who have 10 matches left to secure themselves a play-off spot.
After Coventry’s visit, a tricky trip to Manchester Storm awaits the Steelers. And while Ryan Finnerty’s team currently lie outside the play-offs, they will have been buoyed by a 3-2 home win over Dundee on Wednesday ahead of their trip to bottom club Milton Keynes Lightning on Saturday.