HEAD COACH Aaron Fox praised Anthony DeLuca’s “electric play” as his four goals helped Sheffield Steelers dish out a 7-0 Boxing Day hammering to Manchester Storm.
The 24-year-old had a hand in all seven goals, assisting on efforts elsewhere from Brendan Connolly and Marc-Olivier Vallerand (2).
The somewhat predictable outcome - the Steelers have now beaten the Storm on all four of their visits to South Yorkshire this season - ensures Fox’s team remain top of the Elite League regular season standings.
Their ability to remain two points ahead of second-placed Cardiff Devils will be severely tested this weekend, however, when they head to Altrincham for a quick rematch with the Storm at a venue where they have failed to win on any of their four previous visits this season.
The Devils will be at home to Guildford Flames, where they won 2-1 after a shoot-out at The Spectrum last night.
“That was a fun one tonight,” said Fox. “A huge crowd, a great atmosphere and then DeLuca being involved in all seven of our goals, including four of his own - it was pretty electric play from him tonight.
“When he (DeLuca) is engaged and his feet are moving for the full 60 minutes he is an electric player. But that line of Connolly, DeLuca and Vallearand - three really good players, who have a lot of chemistry together and play with so much pace, was fun to watch.”
On a day to remember, DeLuca got the ball rolling when he back-handed over the shoulder of Matt Ginn when on a breakaway with just 3.15 on the clock.
Two more minutes had barely elapsed before DeLuca doubled his tally with a piledriver into the top left-hand corner thanks to a neat feed from Jonathan Phillips.
Manchester then tightened things up and kept themselves in the game until just after the halfway point when a mistake by a bad pass out from Ginn saw the puck fall to DeLuca who set up Connolly to fire into an unguarded net.
Just over three minutes later it was game over when Connolly and DeLuca combined superbly to set up Vallerand with the simplest of finishes.
A sweet reverse pass from DeLuca then set up Vallerand for his second from a tight angle at 41.07, before the hat-trick moment came for the former courtesy of coolly-taken penalty shot three minutes later.
Appropriately it was DeLuca who wrapped up the evening when his slapshot from the right circle evaded replacement goalie Adam Long.
Fox added: "We’re on a nice little run here now and we’ve got to find a way to bottle it up and keep things rolling because it is good stuff."