JEFF LEGUE called on his Sheffield Steelers’ team-mates to drag Belfast Giants into a dark place tomorrow night.
Giants steam-rolled over Steelers in their last meeting at the Arena and are seven points ahead of the champions in the standings, although Ryan Finnerty’s men have three games in hand.
Legue, who has signed a contract for next year with the club, admits the squad has to show a lot more aggression and determination to succeed in tomorrow’s showdown than the last time they met, going down 4-2.
“We played out on the perimeter last time against the Giants, we didn’t shoot enough, we didn’t go to the dirty areas and we as a team weren’t gritty enough” he admitted.
“We over-played in certain areas. But on Friday it will be different.
“We have the talent, the character and the experience of being in situations like this.
“Friday is a day when we all have to show up and deliver. You don’t get chances to win championships every day of your life and whilst a trophy won’t be presented on Friday, I think we will get a much better idea who will be raising it after the game.”
Player coach Ryan Finnerty said he agreed with those sentiments.
“Leggy is right, we have to be grittier and play our game against Belfast. We have to dictate the game and play to our strengths which is an in-your-face style. We can’t stand back and watch Belfast play.
“We have to play the game in their half of the ice, we can’t over-handle and try and play their game.
“We were heavily outshot last time we met at the Arena, I don’t want to see that stat again on Friday night.
“Jeff Legue has the best shot in the league, let’s get him the puck in those scoring areas where he can use that shot, the same goes for Mike Ramsay and Luke Fulghum.
“Mike Hoffman is a big man for Belfast and he ran the show against us last time, we have some big units in Colt King and Neil Clark, they know they have to use that size and strength in front of (goalie) Stephen Murphy driving the net.
“I know my job” said the player coach. “They know their job both as individuals and as a team. There is no question about it: Friday is D Day.”
Meanwhile, Legue has spoken about his decision to return for a sixth season in South Yorkshire.
“Coming back wasn’t just about the money, or the comfort I have being here in Sheffield.
“As an athlete you want to win, be part of a winning team and after speaking with Ryan and (owner) Tony Smith I was more than happy that the Steelers were going to continue to be a contender next year as well as this.
“Winning starts with Friday against Belfast.
“We have all done the maths we know we have to win our weekend games and the rest.”
British hockey is in mourning after the death of Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume’s wife Kelly, 38.
The couple, who have a three year daughter, had been looking forward to the birth of twins before tragedy struck.