Sheffield Steeldogs take a two goal advantaged into tomorrow night’s second leg of the Bradfield Brewery Cup, at iceSheffield, against Hull Pirates.
But captain Ben Morgan knows that despite this being a ‘friendly’ contest, everyone on the ice will be playing for real; “You just have to look at the first leg – there were people blocking shots, having fights, big hits, it was a full blooded encounter.
“We went into the first leg thinking that we desperately wanted to win it.
“It’s an opportunity to get a bit of silverware regardless of what silverware it is. We really don’t like Hull – simple as that. Hull is a hostile place to go to and it was good to leave with a lead”.
The rivalry only began at the start of the last season when the Pirates joined the league.
This year has seen players moving between the two clubs and Morgan thinks that has upped the ante even further; “There’s no love lost between friends who have played on your teams in the past – I think the fact we have players who have switched clubs has added a little more spice to what has become a really intense rivalry over the past two years”.
Morgan doesn’t agree with suggestions these games are a distraction; “Some comments were made on social media about it being ridiculous playing a friendly game so late in the season, what if someone gets hurt.
“Well, we want to play in these games, we want to be involved in this rivalry and when both teams play with that intensity, fans want to come and watch too.
“The boys want to beat Hull. We want to use the games to get a little confidence going into the end of the season”.
Steeldogs’ weekend finishes with another home game on Sunday when ex-Steeler Doug Sheppard bring his Basingstoke Bison team to Sheffield. The Bison are reigning league champions and if the Steeldogs hold their present league position, they’ll come against them again in the playoffs.
Morgan is looking forward to the challenge; “To beat Basingstoke you have to be at the top of your game and play your game the way you want to. I think if we can get the win on Sunday we can show we are ready for the Play Offs.
“I’ve always said since Doug Sheppard has been coach down in Basingstoke that they are a team to model yourself on.
“They are hard to beat in their own rink, they travel well. They are very disciplined, just like Peterborough. They utilise their strengths very well, so it will be a good bench mark of where we are at”.
Friday’s game starts at 7:30 and face-off on Sunday is at 5:30.