Crunch time for Sheffield Steelers

Jason Hewitt avoids a dangerous skate against Coventry Blaze
Jason Hewitt avoids a dangerous skate against Coventry Blaze

Sheffield Steelers are few people’s favourite bet as they go into the Play Offs tonight.

And coach Gerad Adams is more than happy his team are underdogs in the chase for the only silverware left for grabs.

“It suits us to be underdogs, we have high expectations of ourselves but nobody else has and that is fine by me. We have been playing good hockey since I got here, but yes, we aim to go under the radar and into the Nottingham weekend.

“Nottingham Panthers, playing at home, would be the favourites there, perhaps, but Belfast Giants have had a tremendous year” said the Canadian.

“As far as we are concerned, we breathed a huge sigh of relief when the Hull Stingrays game (last league contest of the season) was over and we could get fully in the Play Off mood.”

Steelers will have to contain the lively Ryan Ginand if they are to give themselves a chance over two quarter final legs - the second at Sheffield Arena on Tuesday (discount prices.)

The American forward has chalked up 51 goals and 46 assists (97 pts) in 60 games, as well as 116 penalty minutes - a career best.

Adams will not detail any one specific player to pick him up.

“Three or four guys out there will be as physical as possible with their danger players. Our first guy in has to eliminate their man by taking his body.

“We have to limit their time on the puck and take away their space” he said.

“That’s not easy with players who are so quick; but it can be done.”

Last week Steelers players trained hard on power plays and driving the net - tactics that had mixed success.

This week the accent has been on maintaining a quick tempo - the side has to make the most of its speed.