THERE may be no Elite League title to play for any more but Sheffield Steelers’ player-coach Ryan Finnerty expects his players to produce performances worthy of champions this weekend.
A 5-1 defeat last Friday night at the hands of Belfast Giants handed their Northern Irish rivals the regular season title earlier much to the Steelers’ travelling supporters’ disappointment.
It was followed by a second successive defeat at the Odyssey Arena 24 hours later before another setback came the following night in a 4-3 loss at the home of play-off hopefuls Hull Stingrays.
Finnerty admits the performance levels were not good enough following his side’s initial loss and said the mood in training since the weekend had been focused on turning in two home performances which would prove a point to the supporters.
Edinburgh Capitals will be first to arrive in South Yorkshire tomorrow, before Braehead Clan, still jockeying for a more preferable play-off position, come the following night.
Finnerty – who has already bolstered next season’s line-up with the signing of GB international forward Colin Shields – said his team were keen to build momentum ahead of the post-season play-off double header against Hull Stingrays the following weekend.
“We owe something to the fans this weekend, that’s for sure,” said Finnerty. “They’ve been tremendous with us all year and we want to give them two performances that they can be proud of and leave feeling they are glad they came to watch.
“We had our self-pitying spells at the weekend and on Monday we got the disappointment of the league out of our system and started looking ahead to this weekend.
“We’re in a different frame of mind and I think some of the players have been stung by the criticism that’s come our way but, in reality, Saturday and Sunday wasn’t good enough.”
Back-up netminder Geoff Woolhouse – missing from last weekend’s action due to injury – has been back in training and expected to start the game against Edinburgh tomorrow.