All posts by Mike Rhodes

@SteelkingsSH; Sheffield Steelkings, Sheffield Steelers, the Detroit Lions and Sheffield United FC. Also loves films.

Steel Curtain: Strongman to perform puck drop at Winter Blast

phil-roberts-deadlift-200x300After the success of the Fire and Ice event, the Sheffield Steelkings Para Ice Hockey team will be holding another inter-squad exhibition game at IceSheffield. The first ever Winter Blast takes place on Friday 14th December; and Sheffield strong man Phil “Titanium” Roberts will be performing the ceremonial puck-drop.

Roberts, a former police officer, has been crowned England’s Strongest Man twice in recent years. He also owns Titanium Strength Gym and helps to develop future champions of the sport.

The Winter Blast will be completely free for spectators and will also include a raffle, a tombola, a selection of merchandise on sale and possibly some freebies for fans. The event begins at 17:45 with the teams taking to the ice around 18:00.
Steelkings

On Guard: A Growlers Recap #2

After our last recap the Growlers were about to head on a five game road trip; and its been an eventful couple of weeks. Their winning streak has come to an end – stopped at eight – but they’re 3-1-1 across the five games, extending their season record to 14-6-1-0.

Continue reading On Guard: A Growlers Recap #2

On Guard! A Growlers Recap #1

It’s a little over a month since the start-up Newfoundland Growlers began their inaugural campaign with a 3-2 win over last seasons Kelly Cup finalists Florida EverBlades; and things are looking pretty good for them right now. They sit atop the entire Eastern Conference with an 11-5 record, going 8-2 in their last 10; and are riding a 6 game winning streak – an early franchise record.

This being their first ever season, Growlers records have been falling like Black Friday prices; and a number of “first-evers” have been recorded:

growlers2

Kristians Rubins scored the Growlers first ever competitive goal (Scott Pooley with the assist); the team recorded its first ever road win on October 20th 4-1 against the Manchester Monarchs (after splitting home series against both the EverBlades and the Thunder); and goaltender Michael Garteig registered their first ever shut-out in a 3-0 home to Manchester last time out on November 10th. Garteig has just won the ECHL’s Goaltender of the week award for his efforts.

It seems that head coach Ryan Clowne has done a grand job quickly gelling a team with the games coming thick and fast; but whether or not this momentum is sustainable remains to be seen – the Growlers could well have taken teams by surprise at how well and how confidently they’ve come together – if the momentum falters, what will happen then?
The early signs are promising: The Growlers have responded well to defeats, having yet to lose more than one game in a row, and are yet to be shut-out. In the Everblades they’ve gone toe-to-toe with a team who almost tasted success last year and they’ve traded wins with the closest team to them in the Eastern Conference, the Adirondack Thunder.

A few statistical leaders:

Points:

Brady Ferguson (LW) 9G-11A-20 Pts
Giorgio Estephan (C) 9G-9A-18 Pts
Scott Pooley (RW) 4G-8A-12 Pts

Ferguson also leads the team on +/- with 10.

PIM: James Melindy (D) – 40

Goaltenders:

Mario Culia – 2 games – GAA: 2.00 – SV%: 0.920
Michael Garteig 12 games – GAA: 2.26 – SV%: 0.930

Upcoming the Growlers are about to embark on a five game road trip, firstly with a double header against the Reading Royals on the 17th and 18th of October, having already won 3-1 in Reading earlier in the campaign. They then head down to Florida to face the Jacksonsville Icemen on the 22nd, before a two-game series against the Orlando Solar Bears (great name) on the 24th and 25th.

Growlers win first ever game

Growlers

October 12th: The ECHL’s newest start-up franchise, the Newfoundland Growlers, won their first ever game, beating last years Kelly Cup finalists Florida Everblades 3-2 in front of a sold-out home crowd at Mile One Center in Saint Johns, Newfoundland.
Continue reading Growlers win first ever game

Paul Thompson leaves the Steelers

News and Opinons follow.

Paul Thompson has left the Sheffield Steelers for “personal reasons.”
Thommo
The club today released a short statement announcing the departure of the polarising GM/Head Coach and that assistant Mark Matheson will take over coaching duties until a permanent replacement for Thompson is found.

The club also thanked Thompson for his hard work and effort.

Despite his successes within the game, Thompson remained an unpopular figure among some sections of the Steelers fanbase – and these sections grew more vocal after a poor start to the season despite a summer rebuild.

Things appeared to have possibly turned around with a rousing 3-2 victory over arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers on Saturday, but the Steelers capitulated 5-1 away to Coventry on Sunday.

Venturing into opinion corner here: Thompson can point to the trophies he has won in the past; as well as to losing players he undoubtedly would have wanted to keep (O’Connor, Armstrong, Neiley) and some bad luck with injuries to key players.

However, it was time for him to go – and he probably should have gone at the end of last year; when there were already questions from some sections of the support about the team’s competitiveness, recruitment hit-rate and some surprising selection choices.
Instead, he went all in on overhauling the roster with promises of catching up to Cardiff, but the results have been less than spectacular. In this regard Thompson ultimately fell on his own sword.

It became quickly apparent that the gulf between the two teams has never been wider, and many recruitment decisions highly questionable (not just the Rupert Brothers, let go after a mere six games); and while it certainly takes time to gel a new team it rarely felt like any progress was being made at all – the bright spark of the Nottingham result instantly doused in Coventry being the most recent – and fatal – example.
Thompson also appeared to be doing anything but engender a sense of team spirit or to raise confidence with frequent post-match attacks on players – many of whom he himself had just recruited – which only fuelled questions over recruitment strategy and man management skills as confidence levels seemed to drop to new lows. Results were not only poor but more concerns were raised about tactics and predictable play, to the increasing frustration of fans.

These factors only caused the portion of anti-Thompson fans in the audience to grow and to become more vocal.

Thompson won the league in his first season in Sheffield (with a roster mostly assembled by his predecessor) but being four years into a three year plan, with the gap to the champions widening and the home form worsening and the noise amongst anti-Thompson fans growing; today’s news, to me, feels like a good thing.

Thompson’s effort can never be questioned and some of the personal abuse publicly levelled his way was vile, but any questions about his ability to continue leading this team were valid. The Steelers were ultimately worse year-on-year during his reign, too many new signings came to nothing and this year the performances just weren’t good enough – or even entertaining enough; and his departure had a certain ring of inevitability about it. If the team has serious aspirations of challenging the dominance of the Devils, it needs a new person at the helm.

For further reading, our own Mark Duell’s personal opinion piece from September 21st pretty much sums up my feelings: Here.