Sheffield v Cardiff showdown will help decide title race

Sheffield Steelers players will pack a punch this weekend - despite the odd broken bone or two.

Friday, 19th February 2016, 8:44 pm
Guillaume Desbiens stunts a picture with Eckington boxer Joss Paul. Pic: Dean Woolley

Both Guillaume Desbiens and Zack Fitzgerald have suffered from hand injuries in recent weeks.

Yet they and their team-mates will do whatever they have to do to get four points this weekend, against title favourites Cardiff Devils.

Coach Paul Thompson said: “Guillaume came straight back from injury and got involved in a scrap in his first shift against Coventry, so I can’t see either of them or anybody else backing off this weekend.

“Cardiff have the deepest bench in the League, they have 17 imports and nine import forwards on their three lines. So it’s not surprising they are favourites to win the league. But Braehead have games left against teams who are not competing for the title and Nottingham have a couple of games in hand, so nothing is for certain.”

The title may be influenced heavily, though, if either Cardiff or Sheffield can trump the other by winning home and away this weekend.

Devils have recorded some big wins over Sheffield at their rink - but Steelers have been training on reduced-sized ice surfaces this week to ensure they give themselves the best possible chance of winning at the Arena and then in Wales.

Arguably Sheffield have the faster skating side, they are after all designed to play at the Arena.

While Devils are masters of their own rink, says Thompson. “They are dominant on their own ice, they know how to play there and are big and gritty. They have two of the better Power Play defencemen in the League.

“We are a little better as a team in terms of skating, but the thing both sides have in common is how committed their top players are.”

Jeff Legue, who scored two at Manchester, midweek, will be on the Power Play point again this weekend.