THE only way is up. Well, almost.
In a week which began with the resignation of head coach Paul Thompson, Sheffield Steelers ended it by slipping to second-bottom of the Elite League.
Of course, there are still 51 games to go in the 2018-19 regular season giving the five-time champions ample time to turn their season around. But these are still worrying times.
Another loss at home, this time to Glasgow Clan on Saturday, was followed by a 4-1 defeat at Fife Flyers. It will have been a long, quiet bus ride home from Kirkcaldy for interim player-coach Mark Matheson and his players on Sunday night.
“We came out strong in the first period,” said a frustrated Matheson after defeat in Fife. "The boys stuck to the game plan and we deserved our 1-0 lead. We haven’t taken an early lead recently and it was a real positive.
“You are going to have break downs in all games and we had a couple in the middle period and then just seemed to abandoned the game plan and reverted to trying to do everything on our own. It was very frustrating
“Everyone is saying the right things at the moment but the talking has to stop and we have to right this ship and quickly because, right now, it’s just not good enough."
In a rare occurrence for this season, the Steelers actually got themselves in front in Fife through Josh Pitt’s 14th-minute power play strike. But it was the second period where the game was lost with Fife plundering two goals as they got in three times more shots on net than the visitors, Joe Basaraba and Evan Bloodoff the ones to find a way past Jackson Whistle.
Basaraba got his second in the 49th minute, before an empty net strike from Carlo Finucci with just under two minutes remaining killed the game.
On Saturday, it proved to be a memorable winning return to Sheffield Arena for Matheson’s former defensive colleague, Zack Fitzgerald, who captained Glasgow to a deserved 4-2 victory.
The hosts got off to the worse possible start when they found themselves 2-0 down inside 10 minutes, Craig Peacock’s third-minute opener finding a way through Whistle before being enhanced by a fierce Scott Pitt strike at 8.30.
Chris Lawrence halved the deficit at 10.08 with his first of the season thanks to some quick-thinking from captain Jonathan Phillips and that was how it stayed until, on a power play brought about by a tripping call on Matheson, Peacock tipped in a shot from Brendan Connolly to make it 3-1 at 36.24.
But it was a one-goal game again soon after when Josh McFadden finished neatly after a swift break up the middle from Tanner Eberle.
As hard as they tried, however, that was as close as the Steelers could get to Pete Russell’s side, victory for the visitors being assured by an empty net strike from Scott Tanski with just 27 seconds remaining.