Dave Simms’ Steelers column: We can make huge strides towards the league title by beating Cardiff this weekend

Steelers' star Zack Fitzgerald in typically combative action
Steelers' star Zack Fitzgerald in typically combative action
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It’s top-against-second on Saturday as the Steelers entertain Cardiff at Sheffield Arena - and the winner will take a huge step forward in their quest for an Elite League championship.

Home advantage has been key for both clubs, as Sheffield have remained unbeaten against the Devils on Arena ice this year. The problem has been that Cardiff are unbeaten on their home ice down in Wales, too. Saturday is crucial.

This league title race isn’t just between these two sides, either. Nottingham and especially Braehead are right in the mix, although I think Belfast have dropped out now. Their run of four defeats might be a loss too many for them to regain ground.

Braehead are strong favourites. Former Steelers coach Ryan Finnerty should have won the championship last year but choked with his Clan side at the final hurdle - allowing the Steelers to pip them to the title and lift the trophy.

The Clan, in the far easier conference, have just three games left against the tough cross conference sides before facing Dundee, Fife, Manchester and the much-depleted Edinburgh. If the Clan can’t overcome what’s in front of them, then they don’t ever deserve to win it. Its now or never for our old mate Ryan. No choking this year, old boy...

The pressure must already be on, as their ownership group were trying until the 11th hour to have Steelers new signing Ryan Hayes suspended for the game against Nottingham last Saturday. They were suggesting (I think that’s the polite way of saying it) that the Steelers hadn’t got their paperwork in order.

They must think we are daft or inexperienced.

We are all to old and long in the tooth here for that. Shaun Smith is also too bright. Work permit, transfer; the whole nine yards, all done 100 per cent correctly, all agreed and all done and dusted. Even on the morning of the game some around the League were acting like five-year-olds.

Mind you, pressure gets to some people like that, especially those not used to winning. We sat back and had a giggle. The night, of course, ended with the Steelers coming from behind to beat Nottingham 5-4 in front of another 7,000 plus crowd.

How good a night was that?

On Sunday, the Steelers went down in Cardiff. Without the injured Mosienko, Fretter and Dowd Sheffield were always up against it.

Both Guillaume Desbiens and Levi Nelson should have missed that game as well but battled through illness and injury.

Those two are both warriors, aren’t they?

Levi from day one of the season has been a superb acquisition. Plays hard every night, a character player and person. His on ice relationship with Robert Dowd might be the highlight of the year so far.

Desbiens’ signing, I think, helped turn the season around.

His on and off ice presence is super impressive; the way he goes to the net, creates havoc, causes mayhem, blocking shots and scores big goals.

What a good bit of work it was signing him.

The Steelers are a team that, in years gone by, have found a way to finding a way.

When times were tough they resolved their problems and issues, battled through and won. If they are to do that again this season, under ever-increasing injury problems, then they have to beat Cardiff on Saturday.

Half of Wales is on their way to the Arena, the Welsh see it as a game for a Championship.

I’m not quite sure about that, but it isn’t far off you know.

On Sunday, the two teams went at it blow for blow; Steelers’ Zack Fitzgerald taking on both Trevor Hendrikx and Josh Batch in the encounter.

Both teams laid it on the line, playing hurt, playing short at times and playing hard – I see more of the same this Saturday, everything being put on the line, body and soul. You wouldn’t want to miss that would you...

See you on Saturday. It could be a busy night.