PAUL THOMPSON has urged his Sheffield Steelers team to forget about their midweek Challenge Cup semi-final nightmare by grabbing four “greasy” points on the road this weekend.
The Steelers travelled down to holders Cardiff Devils on Wednesday night holding a four-goal lead from the first leg, only to see their hopes of landing the trophy for the first time in the Elite League era spectacularly unravel as they went down 7-1 to lose out 9-7 on aggregate.
In the immediate aftermath, head coach Thompson labelled the result “humiliating” and “embarrassing” and admitted he was met by a subdued group of players when they returned to practice at Ice Sheffield yesterday morning.
Cardiff will face off against Belfast Giants in next month’s cup final and remain clear favourites to retain their regular season league title as they head into the weekend five points clear of second-placed Belfast.
As long as the maths says otherwise, Thompson and his players will never publicly admit their hopes of clinching a sixth EIHL title are gone, but it is going to require something pretty spectacular for them to do so between now and the final round of games on March 25.
“While the points are there we’re playing for the league title still,” insisted Thompson. “What happened on Wednesday night is something we all feel extremely low about it.
“We’ve got to bring the group back up now – it was a very subdued bunch that I saw at practice on Friday morning.
“But we’ve got to shut the door on it and just move on because if you dwell on it too long everything else catches up with you.”
The Steelers are on the road all weekend, but head into tonight’s clash at Nottingham Panthers still missing five key players, Andreas Jamtin serving the second of his two-game suspension, with forwards Rob Dowd, John Armstrong, Colton Fretter and defenceman Miika Franssila out injured.
The Panthers are one place and two points adrift with a game in hand on the Steelers, who head further south tomorrow to take on Guildford Flames, the team immediately above them by one point in the overall league standings.
“Jamtin will be back for us on Sunday and we have missed him because I think he is our most consistent forward,” added Thompson.
“We just need to make sure we move on from Wednesday and get our confidence back.
He added: “We’re looking for four greasy road points this weekend.”
We’ve got to shut the door on it and just move on because if you dwell on it too long, everything else catches up with you.Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Paul Thompson