Nobody inside Sheffield Steelers’ dressing room will admit that the ribbon-colours of Belfast Giants might as well be attached, now, to the Elite League trophy.
After last Saturday’s home defeat at their hands, Steeler players are understandably reluctant to verbalise the inevitable despite the fact Giants are 19 points ahead of them. Centreman Jeff Legue prefers to focus on his team’s programme rather than anybody else’s.
He says his team has set their own target: to win all remaining league games...and see where that takes them.
While it is not a mathematical certainty that Giants will be crowned title kings, he accepts the Irish do have the look of champions.
Referring to last Saturday’s loss, he said: “They are a good team. We didn’t come out the way we wanted and it cost us a couple of goals. We have to go right after them and we didn’t do that. They came to play for 60 minutes and we didn’t.”
Asked if there was any chance of catching them, Legue replied: “We take it one game at a time. They have consistency, in this league you have got to get four point weekends and we started off not getting them. It might have cost us.”
So is the League season effectively over for Sheffield? “We have to win every game from here on in” said Legue. “Saturday would have been a big step but it’s behind us now, we have to move on.”
Legue took one positive from the 3-1 reverse - the fact Sheffield took control of the last period. “The last period shows we can dominate teams like that. We just need three lots of that type of period.”
Steelers host Nottingham on Saturday; their rivals are now a point and one place ahead of them in the standings. Legue said: “They can be dangerous, you see some games where they win 9-2 or something like that, but they have a tendency to give up a lot of chances and that’s what hurts them.”
The Canadian was distraught over the news of the tragic death of the daughter of ex-team-mate Randy Dagenais. “It is one of those things you don’t want to happen to anybody. When it hits close to home you take to take a step back and realise that tragic things do happen to people. We are thinking about the family.”