Which team will Steelers fans watch when they return to Sheffield Arena on Wednesday?
Will it be the one that’s so lamely surrendered to arch foe Nottingham Panthers in their last two home games?
Or will it be the one that stormed to the top of the League, were title favourites and won at Coventry last night? I don’t know- and I suspect Gerad Adams, the coach, doesn’t either.
On Saturday Steelers flopped appallingly against the team they always measures themselves against. The 4-1 defeat to Panthers, for me, was even worse than the 4-0 Boxing Day defeat, when at least Sheffield were in it until the end (condeding two in the last minute.)
The team lacked identity and seemed at odds with itself. Mike Forney and Cullen Eddy skated into each other at 20mph, Gord Baldwin and Darrell Hay both skated off the bench, saw there were two D-men already on, looked puzzled and skated off.
Quality players like Rob Dowd and Ben O’Connor made rash decisions with the puck and got scored on.
The men of orange had been peeled apart for their fifth straight League loss.
Home form is critical, not just for league placing but in the club’s commercial interests, too.
Adams said after the Panthers loss: “We’ve lost our way. We speak about things in the dressing room and they don’t get applied on the ice.”
He didn’t know why confidence was lacking at the Arena or where his leaders had gone.
“Confidence will be back, it won’t be gone forever, but right now it’s hard going.
“A lot of players are not producing as they should. We have guys that refuse to make simple plays, get shots on net, won’t trust their instincts. They go for the pretty plays all the time.”
Asked about the home fans they’d let down he said: “It is a tough time but we will come through it. I appreciate people are really frustrated - I wouldn’t be happy if I was paying money.”
On Saturday, Steelers were unconvincing against Notts although Danny Bois though he’d scored with a back-hander - it was ruled out for a man in the crease.
Mistakes started to creep in: Michael Forney’s disastrous cross-ice pass started a counter-attack which set up a chance for Evan Mosey. At 12;36 Bois couldn’t control the puck and Panthers Guillaume Doucet scored on his debut.
Five minutes later Robert Farmer had time to pass between post and Rod Sarich to Cody Wild who made it 2-0.
On a four-on-four play Bruce Graham skipped around Frank Doyle to finish off a tape-to-tape move.
At 39;37 Panthers equalled their previous Arena scoreline. Sheffield committed resources forward and were outnumbered again as Brandon Benedict tapped home. Robert Lachowicz could have bagged a couple more.
Doyle, taunted by Panthers fans in the third, was almost beaten by Chris Lawrence in the third, but the only goal was a Steelers effort - Mathieu Roy tipping in a Ben O’Connor assist.
Last night Steelers had to overcome a 12th minute reverse in Coventry when Blaze exploited a Tyler Mosienko penalty, scoring through Ben Arnt. But Roy carried on where he left off the night before, scoring from Fretter and Forney at 17;37.
Dowd sprang into action at 19;18 to put Sheffield ahead for the first time over the weekend.
And Jeff Legue made sure Steelers won the second session, his effort making it 3-1.
Fretter showed his commitment with a scrap with Steve Goertzen at 44.19.
But Goertzen reduced the game to a one goal gap when he made it 3-2 with 70 seconds left.