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An Elite Season

Posted by Dows on April 17, 2009

A review of the Steelers Season 08/09

With the Ice Hockey season over in this country for another year I thought I would have ago at reviewing the 08/09 season from a Steeler fans perspective and also looking ahead to the 09/10 season.

What a year for the Steelers. No matter how sceptical you may be about the current state of UK Hockey, it’s hard not to admire the way the Steelers took both the league and playoff titles this year. Something that Paul Thompson, coach of the Coventry Blaze, mentioned at the playoff finals is that the Steelers ‘don’t need to carry anyone’ in their team. That pretty much sums up all the Steelers lines this year. Players that had you worried last year about their inclusion stepped up another gear and those that were signed to excel did just that. There were very few moments for Steelers fan to wince as certain players took to the ice, everyone has simply had a truly excellent season.

Dave Matsos has created a quick and skilled team that moves so well on the break and also created the most enviable defence in the league. Defence’s win Championships. That was personified in the Steelers approach this year.

However the Steelers also had probably one of their cleanest years in terms of being, mostly, injury free this year (which has hampered many of the elite league teams this year, most noticeably Newcastle). With the exception of Sharpy early on in the season, Matsos has been able to choose his strongest side for the big games this season. This is evident in their record against the big teams. Coventry only managed to beat the Steelers once this season, that ultimately cost them the league. Nottingham, although have 3 on 3 record with Steelers this season (excluding the playoff final), dropped crucial points at home.

And we had Jody Lehman.Me and the legend that is Jody Lehman

In some games it was that simple. His, often superhuman, efforts in goal this season have meant that Matsos tactic of absorbing pressure and scoring on the break have been incredibly effective. A record amount of shut-outs in this league have had most people saying he should have been elite league player of the season. However I don’t fully agree.

David Beauregard has been phenomenal this season. 61 Goals and 46 Assists is a ridiculous tally to be making in his first season in the UK. His efforts alone almost won two trophies for the Phoenix this season. Manchester have struggled this year and the fact he has put up these numbers is even more incredible. Jody commented that he had some fantastic guys in front of him to make his record season possible. I don’t’ think David could say the same thing.

But there is one crucial reason why Beauregard won everything this season, defence’s may win championships, but goals sell tickets. The Elite League is desperate to sell Hockey as the fast, sexy, alternative to other sports in the UK. Jody’s season is incredible as a hockey fan but to someone new to the sport it’s a rather boring choice. You don’t go to see Man Utd. play for Van Der Sar, you go for Ronaldo. The Elite League need Sky to increase its hockey coverage, and goals sell.

Now I’m not saying David was my pick, Jody all the way for me. But it becomes more understandable if you take into account the wider sport in general.

I was so happy for Robert Dowd this season, he fully deserved his young player of the year award and he has simply been incredible. I had the opportunity to the briefest of chats with him after they won the league and he is such a well-grounded guy. I’m also biased because, like me, he’s from the North-east and I love to see a local lad do well. I’ll be gutted if he leaves this year for bigger and better things but, like Jody, it may be the best thing for his career.

Speaking of the future, sad to see Basingstoke drop out but not surprising. In my opinion the only way Ice Hockey is gonna fly in this country is if the big cities grab it. We need a London team now more than ever and we could do with a Liverpool or Birmingham based team coming to the fold. The league should be expanding, not shrinking but I understand the concern of the league to not promote any EPL teams, no-one wants to go to Slough…

Hull seem to be doing a few moves in the early transfer market and it would be great I think if they start becoming a real force in the league, their end of season playoff run was pretty engrossing and that can only help their fanbase grow.

Well that’s it from me, feel free to disagree with whatever i’ve posted. I’ve only been involved in the sport for three years now but I’m learning to love it more every day.



2 Responses to “An Elite Season”

  1. coyotes_uk said

    Cracking read, even though I am a Phoenix fan. The Steelers have been very impressive in how they went about gringing out their results! Fully deserved the league and playoff trophies!

    As you have said David-Alexandre Beauregard has deserved all the awards he has won, but I would disagree that he alone carried the Phoenix. We had a very strong first line and a strong second line.

    While David made the headlines we had pleanty of other players doing their bit too!

  2. Hannah said

    Hey, Im a steelers fan and i think that you are exactly right about Beeauregard, he has been an amazing player and his stats are really impressive.
    But in my eye’s Jody has been the star this season, even though we have amazing players i think he was the one that made it all come together. Really sad to see him go but i know he has to do whats best for him andhis family and get new experiences.
    Glad Dowdy is back for another season think he has been by far the best newcomer of the 08/09 season and he has really proved to everyone that he is up there with the best.
    Great read though.
    Lets just hope Steelers can do it all again next season, best season i have seen so far, lets hope it continues !


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