Tough team to play against

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November 10, 2016 12:00 AM

GRIT The Lloydminster PWM Steelers are gaining a reputation as a team that plays a physical game, something that's helped the Steelers battle through the beginning of the AFHL season and put them in a share for first place in the league. ANDREW BRETHAUER LLS PHOTO

How the Steelers have a spot on top of the AFHL through physical play

When the Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) was established at the midget AAA, many would have believed the limited number of teams would create a league full of super skilled players, high scoring games and quick puck movement.
No one would have guessed a team would play a gritty style of hockey, but that’s exactly what the Lloydminster PWM Steelers have done, so well so that they are in a tie for first place in the AFHL with 21 points in 11 games.
And they are doing it by being a team that relies on a committee approach and being a team that the rest of the AFHL doesn’t want to play.
“When we play our game, we’re not an easy team to play against,” said Steelers head coach Eric Morrissette. “When we play hard, there is no team in this league that wants to play us. We’ll play them hard. We’re not making it easy for teams to come in here.”
The team the Steelers are tied with in the standings, the St. Albert Slash, have only played seven games, but have won every game in regulation to pick up three points in each contest.
They’ve done it with it an outburst of scoring, as their 29 goals is the second most out of the six teams, however, the current leaders, Rocky Mountain with 30 goals, have played four more games.
Meanwhile, the Steelers have 24 goals this season, while they have been scored on 23 times, not what you would expect out of a first place team, however, that’s how Lloydminster plays, not as a scoring juggernaut, but a collective committee that runs three lines that are all capable of scoring.
“The one thing good right now about our team is that we are scoring by committee,” said Morrissette. “We’re not relying on one girl to get us a goal. That’s the best part of our team. If anyone comes in and says we have to key on this girl, well they are not going to be able to because it is three lines. All three lines can play.”
The last time the Steelers and Slash met on Oct. 15, St. Albert skated away with a 5-0 victory.
Both teams will see players leave for the U18 Team Alberta, who are competing at the National Women’s U18 tournament, which includes Lloydminster’s Jaydin Thorpe, while the Slash lose three players.
Morrissette said he isn’t making any changes to the style or system the Steelers play, instead looking for the effort and grit that has made them successful so far this season, which they will have to do with one of their grittiest players, defenceman Jaylynn Umphrey, out of the lineup due to injury.
“We just need to play them tough,” said Morrissette. “Last time we played them, we didn’t play at all. Our biggest situation right now is (name) because she brings a sandpaper, grit type play and she is so hard to play against.”
The Steelers are in St. Albert tonight to determine first place in the standings and they will head to Rocky Mountain on Sunday to take on the Raiders.

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