Rod Sarich believes that the experience within the Steelers’ squad will be a defining factor in where the Elite League title ends up this season.
With a handful of games left, Sheffield and Cardiff are neck-and-neck at the top, although Devils have a match in hand.
Sarich has won the title three times with the Arena outfit and knows what it takes to win at the top UK level.
“Experience is a good thing, the fact that we won it last year when it was so close is hopefully a warm-up for what’s going to happen now” says the 34-year-old defenceman, whose side faces Fife on Saturday.
“Experienced guys don’t panic, they just go about their business and hopefully that translates into making fewer mistakes. It is good to have people who have been there on previous occasions. They have been in pressure games before and done well down the stretch - that’s got to help.”
Sarich accepts other teams have veterans too and that the championship will be a close run thing.
“Going into games, it is about a lot of factors: who is healthy and who is not? Who has a strong line-up that is in a bit of form and got some momentum and confidence running. Or who is struggling? It has been a crap shoot over the last few months of who beats who.
“Teams think they are getting ahead, (in the standings) and it turns out they are not. We have to keep trying to win every game.
“Since Christmas it has been so close, there have been some surprise results here and there.”
Sarich says heavy defeat to Nottingham in the Challenge Cup could be a league blessing-in-disguise.
“Nottingham was a bit of a blow in the cup, but it’s not necessarily the worse thing for the League. It was a reality check. We can move on from there.”
n Steelers today showed their faith in 22-year-old prospect Luke Ferrara by handing him a two year contract extension.
Coach Paul Thompson said Ferarra had progressed into a well-rounded player with the bonus of being a potential goal-sniper. “I see why Gerad (Adams, former coach) wanted him back. We have an ageing group of British players, here, and we need to back-fill with some younger guys. The baton will be passed on to them.”