PAUL THOMPSON has labelled Manchester Storm counterpart Ryan Finnerty his ‘coach of the season’ after leading his team to an Elite League runners-up spot.
Thompson’s Sheffield Steelers’ team head across the Pennines to take on Manchester in the last game of the regular season tomorrow night.
With two-time regular season champions Cardiff Devils and Manchester having secured the two two spots for the play-offs, the Steelers can secure third spot overall if results go their way this weekend.
Beating Manchester and bottom club Edinburgh Capitals to night on home ice will go a long way to securing third place, although Belfast Giants and Fife Flyers go into the weekend one point abetter off than the South Yorkshire club.
“Ryan’s had a great season and he’s my coach of the year right now,” said Thompson of Storm boss Finnerty, who spent two years as player-coach at the Steelers between 2011-2013.
“His recruitment has been spot-on and everything has panned out for him – you get those years sometimes.
“It is a difficult place to play and he’s put together a team that makes it even more difficult.
“But, to be honest, they don’t just play well at home, they play well on the road too.”
Against Edinburgh at Sheffield Arena tonight (7pm), Thompson said he would be handing back-up netminder Brad Day another start after he back-stopped his team to a 4-3 victory at Cardiff last Sunday.
The young British trio of Liam Kirk, Cole Shudra and Kieran Brown are also likely to be given more ice time, while Thompson can finally welcome back key import forward John Armstrong, who returns after a 12-week lay-off due to a finger injury.
His recruitment has been spot-on and everything has panned out for him – you get those years sometimes. It is a difficult place to play and he’s put together a team that makes it even more difficult.Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Paul Thompson