How Sheffield Steelers can end Belfast Giants title chase, by Dave Simms

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Christmas went in the blink of an eye for Sheffield Steelers’ official Dave Simms - and during that time there was a tear in it.

Back-to-back defeats to Nottingham Panthers was a depressing outcome and not one he had foreseen.

Robert Dowd in action for Sheffield Steelers v Belfast Giants 15/11/14

Robert Dowd in action for Sheffield Steelers v Belfast Giants 15/11/14

Yet Sheffield head into the New Year on top of the League - a position any of the other Elite teams would love to be in. And Simms says that if Sheffield can win both games at Belfast Giants this weekend, they can go a long way towards booting the Irish out of the title race.

Steelers have won twice at home against them and have taken a point on the road. “If we can take points at the Odyssey Arena whether that be one, two three or four points, it is a huge swing in the title race” said Simms.

“In these days of Conferencing, these eight games we all play against each other, winning on the road and taking points in other teams’ buildings is important.

“At the moment, we have the advantage on Belfast, if you can extend that advantage in these two games, then it puts a big hold on them in trying to regain their championship. If we took four points in the Odyssey Arena, they will not win the league title” he predicted.

Simms is an admirer of Giants’s squad but questioned the recruitment of Stanley Cup Champion Kevin Westgarth.

“He is a bit of a handful, has a very good résumé, a very strong lad, he brings a physical presence. History has shown us from January on, though, the fighting and the physical side diminishes, so was he the right signing for Belfast? Steve Thornton thought he was. We have gone the other way, we have gone for the more skilled approach with Jeff Legue coming back, they have gone for the more physical approach.

“I felt it was a strange signing as they have got best physical guy in the league in Adam Keefe.”

On Tuesday night, Belfast Giants limbered up for Steelers with a 9-3 win over Dundee Stars.

Cardiff Devils beat Hull Stingrays 7-0.

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