Welcome back to the Steelers Perspective.
For this article, I am going to do something a little bit different to what this column usually has been. It’s an appraisal of some sort about one of the current Steelers roster, and if recent form guides are a yardstick then it’s well deserved indeed. I hope you enjoy this, as I said it’s something different.
When 23 year old Canadian Anthony DeLuca arrived in Sheffield at the start of November as part of Tom Barrasso’s rebuild, he promised the Steelers fan base energy and excitement. His previous spell in European hockey had seen him record 15 goals and 39 points in 51 Metal Ligaen regular and post-season games for Fredrikshavn White Hawks and the expectation was that he would provide some much needed offensive punch for the Steelers who were trying to reignite their season after a disappointing start which at one stage; saw them in the surprising position of bottom of the Elite League standings.
DeLuca’s life in Sheffield didn’t start well for him. After games against Guildford and Dundee, DeLuca was the player involved in the team sheet error. In a double header weekend at Glasgow and Fife, DeLuca iced both games but for some reason Steelers had absent mindedly forgotten to put his name down on the game sheet. This only came to light when after completing one shift in Fife, the officials spotted the mistake and the young Canadian forward had to be benched for the remainder of the 6-2 win in the Auld Barn.
He was struggling to get to grips with the Elite League and the new systems employed by his new Head Coach, but finally broke his scoring duck for the Steelers when he netted the Steelers third goal in their Challenge Cup quarter-final first leg against Guildford Flames at the House of Steel. However, the return of John Armstrong sent the rumour mill into overdrive with the forward allegedly put on a 2 week notice period just before Christmas which meant he was going to be the one sacrificed as the Steelers were one import over the maximum of 14. Things looked pretty bleak if you were Anthony DeLuca if that was to be believed.
However, the recent Christmas and New Year games have seen DeLuca shine like a bright beacon and really show his worth to the roster. His work-rate has gone to a new level, hence he’s getting regular shifts, and most of all he’s in the goals. After further endearing himself to the Steelers supporters with a superb game winning penalty shot goal in a shootout against the Panthers, he absolutely undressed former NHL goaltender Michael Garnett with some fabulous skill before firing the puck into the empty cage with Garnett out of position, he took it to another level against Ryan Finnerty’s Manchester Storm. His first league goal was a superb individual piece of skill; taking the puck from the behind the net and then working a shooting opportunity out for himself before dispatching the puck beyond Matt Ginn. It stood up as the game winning goal. A hat-trick followed on New Year’s Day, and despite finishing on the losing side: his performance was a high spot for the Steelers.
At this rate, we are now seeing the real DeLuca and he’s proving to be impossible to drop for Tom Barrasso. He’s producing the goods in front of goal and his team play has improved enormously. What a turnaround from the DeLuca that had such a quiet beginning. Long may it continue, a fan favourite is really starting to emerge and he might just go and be the surprise signing of the season. With youth on his side, there’s a lot more to come from this forward. Steelers supporters will be hoping it will be with them.