WHILE his team’s training schedule for the weekend will have been thrown into disarray by the actions of boy band One Direction, Sheffield Steelers’ head coach Paul Thompson insists there can be no excuses from his players.
The Steelers were originally facing a tough three games in as many days this weekend, starting last night at Belfast Giants’ Odyssey Arena with a second game tonight before returning home in the early hours of tomorrow to prepare for the visit of Manchester Storm in a 5pm face-off.
But the postponement of One Direction’s concert on Tuesday night due to illness befalling one of its members, saw the gig rearranged for last night.
The Steelers management were livid at the late change of plan, not just for their own players and staff but the many fans who had already paid out for tickets, travel and accommodation based on two games being played.
With their hotel already booked, the players still flew out to Northern Ireland yesterday.
Fortunately, said Thompson, the Steelers will have some on-ice practice time this morning.
“It has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works in terms of our preparations, to be honest, but it is what it is and you just have to get on with it,” said Thompson, whose team beat Belfast in back-to-back games earlier this month at Sheffield Arena. And while club officials fight for financial compensation for their fans, Thompson faces second-placed Giants without three key forwards.
Rob Dowd and Mike Duco, while closing in on a return, are unlikely to feature this weekend. Colton Fretter will be out for up to five weeks after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia.
“It’s going to be tough in Belfast, it always is,” added Thompson. “But when you’ve got three big talents out like those guys it’s even harder.
“The second game against Belfast at our place (Steelers won 2-1), after we’d beaten them 6-1 the night before, is the kind of difficult game we can expect. But we’ll be as focussed as we were last weekend and that paid off for us when we won in Nottingham and then came back from 3-1 down at ours to beat Braehead.”