Sheffield Steeldogs v Leeds Knights: Coach Greg Wood happy with response from his Dogs after Autumn Cup ‘hurt’

GREG WOOD admits his Sheffield Steeldogs team were left ‘hurting’ by their Autumn Cup semi-final loss to Leeds Knights – but is proud of the way they have responded to the disappointment since.

Sheffield Steeldogs head coach Greg Wood. Picture courtesy of Peter Best.

The two teams meet at Ice Sheffield tonight, the first meeting between the two since Leeds won 9-6 on aggregate over two legs earlier this month.

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Wood was keen to ensure there was no hangover from the disappointment his players felt after the second leg in Leeds and his wish has been fulfilled, the Steeldogs winning three of their four NIHL regular season games since to sit two points clear at the top of the standings.

Archie Hazeldine falls under pressure from James Spurr in the seond leg of the Autumn Cup semi-final at Elland Road. Picture Bruce Rollinson

“It’s an emotional game and it can obviously go both ways,” said Wood. “But we were really conscious that we didn’t want to have any hangover from the semi-final and the guys have really kicked on and done the business since then.

“Yes, guys were hurt by it and if we’d been totally outplayed and beaten I think we could probably hold our hands up.

“But I think it was the way that we gave goals away. We beat ourselves in those two games and that’s the bottom line. Guys were frustrated with that.

“Last weekend, we scored eight goals and conceded just one. You can’t really knock that and it was just as positive in terms of the performance levels as well as the actual results.

“It’s a long old season, nothing is won or lost in November but what you can do is put yourself in a really good position.

“And what we’ve done so far is make sure we’re heading in the right direction – we’ve just got to make sure we maintain that.”

Just exactly what kind of Leeds team Wood’s players will come up against tonight is anybody’s guess.

Hampered by injuries to up to half a dozen key players at one time or another in recent weeks, coach Dave Whistle has had to rely on two-way deals or other temporary fixes to get by.

He is likely to make game-day decisions on first-choice netminder Sam Gospel and defenceman Jordan Griffin, depending on how they have reacted to last night’s practice session.