With 24 league games left for Sheffield Steelers, their coach accepts that - on paper - Cardiff Devils appear favourites.
But ‘on paper’ isn’t on the ice - and Paul Thompson has a hunch that his team will come good down the straight and can catch league leaders Cardiff Devils, currently 10 points ahead of them having played three games more.
Steelers use up one of their games in hand on Wednesday night, at iceSheffield, against bottom of the league Edinburgh Capitals.
Thompson says: “If you look at the league standings, yes, Cardiff might be favourites.
“But there are 24 games left; that’s a lot of hockey to play. Our deficit to them in the league table is because we lost league games to them, so that is something we absolutely have to address when we play them next.
“While here is a long way to go we are reaching the stage where getting two points from every game is vital, to everybody.
“We have got to be putting points on the board.
“We have had a lot of Conference games and I am not unhappy where we are” said the coach.
“The club has won the league on the last day in the last two years and it is about keeping the pressure on those above, at this stage. In the last third of the season, we always seem to come on pretty strong.”
Thompson described Edinburgh as a “strange team.”
“They got walloped on Sunday (shut out 6-0 by Dundee Stars) but had beaten them the night before.
“We have played a lot of hockey in the last three weeks and you have to work on players to get them back up and excited for the next game.
“We flew from Belfast to Manchester on Monday so that was a travel day, had them in on Tuesday and they play Wednesday night but you have to be excited about what is coming, even if you are tired.
“If you are not up for Edinburgh that is when they will punish you.”
“We did well against them last time (7-1 win on November 26, with Yared Hagos and Andreas Valdix out injured) but they do have some dynamic players with a high
“Give them an opportunity and they will take it. We have got to play our style and dictate the game.”