A 5-2 defeat to HV71 Jonkoping at Sheffield Arena has more or less ended any realistic hopes Steelers have of making it through to the knockout phase, coming on the back of a 5-3 defeat on the road against the same opponents and an 8-1 mauling at the hands of their other Group P rivals, Red Bull Salzburg.
Click on the link above to see Paul Thompson’s reaction to defeat by HV71 on Saturday night.
On Saturday, the Steelers ill-discipline once again proved costly, with four-time Swedish champions HV71 scoring all five of their goals on the powerplay.
The Steelers replied with a powerplay goal of their own through Rob Dowd’s second strike of the night in the 55th minute – but it came too late to have any effect on the outcome, the Steelers already trailing 5-1 at the time.
Steelers’ woes on the penalty kill have been prevalent throughout so far in the competition.. They went into Saturday’s clash having already conceding six powerplay goals in their previous two games.
Ahead of the much-anticipated visit from the Swedish outfit, the message of staying disciplined and not giving away “selfish” penalties had been hammered into the players.
But as defenceman Davey Phillips acknowledged afterwards, sometimes when you’re up against a quicker and more skilled opponent it is easier said than done.
“We’ve got to take some responsibility, individually take some responsibility,” blasted Thompson.
“We’ve got to wake up and smell the coffee because this is probably us exiting the competition which we don’t want.
“I accept we’re going to take penalties against a team that is a little bit quicker, a little bit smarter and a little bit stronger than us in certain areas and I can accept taking the penalties when we’re battling hard.
“But I can’t accept it when they are just not smart ones and we didn’t take smart ones at times and we are not learning our lesson.
“Over the two games between us, they have scored eight powerplay goals as well as a 6-on-5 on us.
“In a building like it was on here where it was so warm and the ice was really bad - and it was the same for both teams - you’re using your energy up and you’re putting yourself up against powerplays that, right now, are picking us apart because our confidence is zero in that department.”
Next weekend sees Steelers take a break from European action as they launch their domestic campaign with a Challenge Cup group opener against Manchester Storm.
Thompson believes it will be a good time for his players to take a step away from the CHL and acquit themselves against a more familiar foe.
“It’s hard to know where our level is right now after these three CHL games because we’ve looked really good in some parts and then let ourselves down in other areas, mostly in terms of discipline,” explained Thompson.
“I do like our team and I like the way we play and, in this competition, we know we’re up against it.
“So it will be good to play teams in our own league, just to give us a feel again of where we are in our own league and after the pace we’ve been playing at in the CHL.”