`

On-form Sheffield Steelers must focus on the Elite League table now

Matt Marquardt, a true power forward  for Steelers. Picture: Dean Woolley
Matt Marquardt, a true power forward for Steelers. Picture: Dean Woolley

So far so good for Sheffield Steelers in Challenge Cup combat.

Wednesday’s controlled 6-2 first leg demolition of Cardiff Devils stands them in good stead for the decider in Wales next week.

Paul Thompson’s team are pounding the opposition crease in numbers more than previously this season and defensively they are sound.

Steelers, should they overcome Cardiff in the second leg, may well face Belfast Giants in the final. The Irish handed Panthers a 5-1 hiding on their own ice, in the other first leg.

However, Sheffield’s thoroughly enjoyable Cup distraction saw them fall to fifth spot in the Elite League.

When the team was playing in the Continental Cup last month, the same thing happened, but three wins out of four matches saw them reclaim third position.

Now Steelers face a similar challenge; they host Nottingham Panthers and Manchester Storm on Saturday and Sunday where maximum points will be deemed essential.

Storm are now in third, courtesy of a midweek 4-1 win at Milton Keynes Lightning. In fourth place in the table are Fife Flyers, who have been a refreshing influence on the higher echelon of the division so far.

The most impressive factor involved in Sheffield’s run of form has been their ability not to allow injuries to significant players to upset their flow.

With Robert Dowd, John Armstrong and now Colton Fretter out, others have picked up the slack.

Matt Marquardt has scored five goals and two assists in the club’s last four games.

Levi Nelson has been on target in all but one of his last five outings.

Andreas Jamtin has returned from suspension with fire in his belly and Eric Neiley has proved over 10 games to have been a fine acquisition.

Defencemen Mark Matheson, Scott Aarsson and Ben O’Connor are on fire, offensively and much has rightly been said about the young players Cole Shudra and Liam Kirk. Add to that, the unflappable goaltending of Ervins Mustukovs - and things look good in Steelerland right now...as long as they can climb that table.

READ MORE: Click here for all the latest news from the ice hockey scene