Ice Hockey: Who can stop league leaders?

HOW can Cardiff Devils be stopped? That's a good question, admits Sheffield Steelers player-coach Ben Simon, who is plotting to avoid handing the table-topping Welsh their 20th straight victory tomorrow. "Nobody seems to have had the answer to that, although we have always matched up well against them" he says.

"In fact, we should have had more success against them than we have," he adds, ahead of tomorrow night's showdown at Sheffield Arena. "We gave away three or four goals against them at iceSheffield and gave away a bad late goal at their barn. It's time we won this one."

Simon will be pinning his hopes on the big ice of the Arena - he believes that while Devils are a decent skating side, Steelers should have the upper hand on their own patch.

"I wouldn't say we were better skaters man for man, but we should be better than them on our own surface" the American said.

"We have some great skaters like Rob Dowd, Ashley Tait, Rob Globke, Rod Sarich and Jerramie Domish and we have to use their skills to our advantage.

"Their barn is smaller and everything has to happen a lot quicker there, decision making has to come at a much faster rate.

"There is nowhere to hide there. But at our Arena, we need to dictate the game to them."

Simon is an admirer of Devils' style: "They have a good combination of strength, finesse, skill and physicality. They know how to put the puck in the net and have decent goaltending. That's why they have been setting all the records they have.

"Their defenceman Craig Weller (100 games NHL) added a lot of depth and stability when he arrived, he moves the puck well and is a big guy. Jon Pelle is a threat and Ryan Finnerty always pulls his weight.

"When you have 15 guys all playing well it's tough not to win games! But while I respect what they've been doing I'm more concerned with what we're going to do. We'll see what they bring and take it from there."

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