Sheffield Steeldogs quietly go about business to stay upwardly mobile but Hull Seahawks suffer again

LEEDS KNIGHTS and Hull Seahawks might currently be considered the two extremes in NIHL National at the moment. Sheffield Steeldogs, meanwhile, are quietly going about their business occupying the middle ground quite nicely.
DOUBLE DELIGHT: Matt Bissonnette found the net both nights for Sheffield Steeldogs, as they eked out one-goal wins against NIHL National rivals Basingstoke Bison and Bees IHC. Picture courtesy of Peter Best/Steeldogs MediaDOUBLE DELIGHT: Matt Bissonnette found the net both nights for Sheffield Steeldogs, as they eked out one-goal wins against NIHL National rivals Basingstoke Bison and Bees IHC. Picture courtesy of Peter Best/Steeldogs Media
DOUBLE DELIGHT: Matt Bissonnette found the net both nights for Sheffield Steeldogs, as they eked out one-goal wins against NIHL National rivals Basingstoke Bison and Bees IHC. Picture courtesy of Peter Best/Steeldogs Media

Another four-point weekend – their second in succession – sees Greg Wood’s team safely nestled in fourth place in the standings, four points adrift of the joint-top pair of Leeds and Peterborough Phantoms.

They have a game in hand on Peterborough, while they head to Leeds on Saturday for the first Yorkshire derby between the two this season.

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HAPPY DAYS: Sheffield Steeldogs' head coach Greg Wood. Picture courtesy of Peter Best/Steeldogs MediaHAPPY DAYS: Sheffield Steeldogs' head coach Greg Wood. Picture courtesy of Peter Best/Steeldogs Media
HAPPY DAYS: Sheffield Steeldogs' head coach Greg Wood. Picture courtesy of Peter Best/Steeldogs Media
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Their latest maximum haul came courtesy of one-goal wins against Basingstoke Bison and Bees IHC, goals from Matt Bissonnette and Alex Graham secured the points in Slough on Sunday.

Bissonnette was on target on home ice, too, along with Vladislavs Vulkanovs, Jonathan Kirk and Louie Newell, as Ashley Tait’s Bison team were edged out 4-3 in a keenly-fought contest.

By contrast, a severely-depleted Seahawks must continue their wait for a first-ever win, twice coming off second-best against second-placed Peterborough Phantoms in a weekend double-header.

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Matty Davies’s team conceded 17 goals in all, losing out 9-3 in Cambridgeshire on Saturday before being shut-out in an 8-0 home loss the following night, their injury jinx striking again when goaltender Curtis Warburton was forced to retire early from the game - Jordan McLaughlin being ruled out after sustaining an injury on Saturday.

The Seahawks travel to Sheffield for the first Ice Sheffield clash with the Steeldogs on Tuesday night.

Steeldogs’ head coach Wood praised the professionalism of his team on both nights, securing points that keep them in touch with the leaders.

‘I’m satisfied to get the points in the board,” said Wood. “We are keeping in touch with the top teams. It’s been really pleasing to have back-to-back four-point weekends.

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‘Against Basingstoke on Saturday, they’ve had some good results against some good teams so we knew we were in for a tough night. I tried a few different line combinations as my hand was forced through injuries.

‘In Slough, we gave a really professional performance and despite conceding late on, I thought it was, overall, a very strong performance. You have to try to win these games as these are the types of places you can slip up in.”

By contrast, Davies cut a forlorn figure in Hull, particularly after seeing his team shutout on home ice by a Peterborough team who have now won eight straight games.

Davies and his co-owners are hoping they receive positive news this week about import signings Andreas Themar and Emil Svec, who are still awaiting clearance to play.

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“It’s tough right now, we are just really crying out for the team that we’ve signed – we just don’t have the team I originally signed and that’s the tough thing,” said Davies.

“At the minute we’re a soft touch in this league and it’s really hard to watch for me because that’s not what we want to be, obviously.

“Them lads, again, are giving me everything, they are playing short and it’s really difficult but, at the minute, it’s just not good enough.

“We have to be better - especially at home - we have to be better.”