Tonight's game can define entire season

STEELERS must tonight beware a lethal, late charge from Cardiff Devils, the table-topping team most likely to deprive them of the Elite League championship.

The outrageously-succesful Devils have enjoyed the upper hand over Sheffield this season - and late goals have played a decisive part.

In four of their five games, so far, Cardiff have found the energy to sneak a goal, guaranteeing success.

On December 11, Scott Matzka secured the 3-2 winner with 57:41.In October, Jon Pelle scored the 'insurance' goal in a 5-3 home win - at 57:57. On September 22, a goal with 15 seconds left supplied a 6-6 tie, Pelle again on the mark.

Ten days earlier Justin Sawyer scored the 5-4 winner again in the 57th minute.

While Steelers won their initial game against Cardiff back in September, the side now ahead of them is clearly much better than they were then - they are on an astonishing 19-game winning streak.

Tonight, Sheffield will be keen on finishing Devils off way well before the final minutes, but the odds are, with two closely matched sides, that this evening will be another cliffhanger.

Sheffield will need no reminding of the need to control Pelle, he's scored a brace against them three times this season.

On the other hand, Jeff Legue is in superb form currently and should fancy his chances of adding to the four he's banged home against Devils in 2010-11 season.

Steelers' last three goals against the Welsh have been on the powerplay. And that could also be a vital factor tonight.

Devils lead the Elite division by a point, after weekend wins saw them leapfrog over second place Belfast Giants. Sheffield are in third spot.

Victory tonight won't change that, but would put them two points behind Devils, with a game in hand.

Sheffield defenceman Kevin Bolibruck is under now illusion how important that task is. He said: "This is my second spell with the club and third year here and this is the biggest game of my tenure. Someone has to stop Cardiff and quickly. If they keep winning they will be out of sight soon. When I was in Sheffield the first time (2004) we did a similar thing when we put a great run together that separated us from the chasing pack. There are three of us starting to pull away now and whilst we can't look to far ahead it seems that the winner will come from that pack."

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