It is do-or-die as the Elite Ice Hockey League title race reaches a climax. A slip, mistimed tackle or a scuffed shot could tilt the title race in anyone’s favour.
Sheffield Steelers know this as they take on Nottingham Panthers away on Saturday before playing Belfast Giants at the FlyDSA Arena on Sunday. They will need to win their remaining fixtures to reclaim the title.
After a dismal week of consecutive losses to the bottom two, Fife Flyers and Dundee Stars, Sheffield are seeking redemption in their remaining fixtures.
They currently lead the table with 57 points from 44 games, ahead of Cardiff Devils, who have 54 points from 40 games. Nottingham Panthers are in third place with 53 points from 41 games.
Head coach Aaron Fox rallied his charges to pick up the intensity and improve their form.
He said: “We just weren’t good enough recently and I think some arrogance crept into our game a little bit. We shot ourselves in the foot last week. But we don’t want to be Debbie the Downer.
“We had a couple of meetings to go through the bad stuff that has crept into our game lately. There is a ton of belief in the room and we have to change our form quickly and be ready to battle through this slump in performance.”
Despite injuries to star forward Robert Dowd, Fox is confident in the depth of his squad to bring home all six points this weekend. There are more positives as Ben O’Conner returns from suspension while goalkeeper Jeremy Brodeur was signed yesterday.
“We’ve dealt with injuries all year long and I’m confident we can turn this around. Some guys have stepped up but we have enough in the room to win hockey games,” said the Minnesota native.
“We just have to get back to keep the game simple. We like to play a fast up-tempo game but the most important thing is the small details. We want to block shots and have a play off mentality.
“These games are critical and I said to the boys yesterday that if we can’t get our form up for the game on Saturday against Nottingham with first place still on the line, you probably don’t belong in this business.”