EVAN McGRATH has urged Sheffield Steelers to avoid a repeat of their midweek performance against Dundee Stars or risk tonight’s Challenge Cup clash against fierce rivals Nottingham Panthers turning “ugly”.
The Steelers came back from a two-goal deficit after 40 minutes against Omar Pacha’s team in the Elite League on Wednesday night, eventually making sure of two points after a shoot-out.
But it did not see them escape fierce criticism from frustrated head coach Paul Thompson, who warned further roster changes could be on the way if performances failed to improve.
McGrath, one of 16 new arrivals as part of a wholesale makeover by Thompson in the summer, understands his coach’s frustrations, but is confident there is the necessary quality in the Steelers’ locker room to turn their 2018-19 campaign around.
“We know we can’t play that way against Nottingham on Saturday night,” said 32-year-old McGrath, a 2004 fourth round NHL draft pick for the Detroit Red Wings who went on to make over 280 AHL appearances before eight seasons in Europe eventually brought him to South Yorkshire.
“If we give up that many opportunities again they are going to score more often than Dundee did and it is going to be ugly (for us). While we can build off taking those two league points from Wednesday, at the same time we need to realise what went wrong and make sure we fix those things that just aren’t working for us right now.”
Within 24 hours of edging out Dundee, Thompson brought his roster back up to full strength by signing centre Ryan Martindale.
Thompson said he needed to replenish his roster before looking to move players out and – injury to British forward Rob Dowd aside – he ican now do so.
It is not clear whether Martindale will arrive in time for to night’s face-off against the Panthers at Sheffield Arena (7pm) or indeed be available for tomorrow’s trip to Thompson’s former club Coventry Blaze.
While we can build off taking those two league points from Wednesday, at the same time we need to realise what went wrong and make sure we fix those things that just aren’t working for us right now.Sheffield Steelers’ Evan McGrath
For his part, McGrath has made a steady start to his UK career, posting nine points in as many games, with three goals.
But he believes only by more consistency being established throughout the entire Steelers line-up, will brighter days lie ahead.
“You can’t win in one or two shifts, you’ve got to beat a team down,” he added. “Right now, we’re getting a good shift and then a couple of bad shifts – we just need to find some more consistency and, these days, you’ve got to be on top of your game as a team for whole periods, not just a shift here and there.”