Wood is commended for leadership in Cup and League battles

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Sheffield Steeldogs go back into league action this weekend after a nailbiting 1-0 cup semi-final first leg victory over Milton Keynes, midweek.

Andre Payette’s men visit Slough Jets tomorrow night before hosting Manchester Phoenix on Sunday (5.30pm.)

Dogs are desperate to take the two points off Manchester and reduce the gap to a single point in both the League and in the series between the two teams.

Manchester, in second League position, have an impressive record of 12 wins out of 14 games since the middle of December, despite Tony Hand being out with an ankle injury. In their recent trip across the Pennines, Steeldogs held the Phoenix forwards well during the first two goal-less periods, but Dogs are smarting from the 3-0 loss inflicted on them in a short, sharp burst in the third period.

This fifth encounter will probably be another close-run but hard, fast game as Steeldogs strive to beat Manchester in iceSheffield for the first time and keep in touching distance of the top three teams.

On Wednesday, a single late strike gave Steeldogs a one goal lead to take to Milton Keynes on Thursday for the second leg of the Cup Semi-Final, as Ben Bowns shut out the Lightning for the second consecutive game. The only goal of the game at 56:18 as Chris Sykes finally got the puck under goalie Hollyhead, assisted by Janis Ozolins and Stuart Brittle, after some intense pressure. Home goalie Bowns was man of the match.

Payette said: “Our captain Greg Wood led the team extremely well, as he has all year, and in a big game I expect all my top players to step up. Steve Duncombe and Ben Morgan were outstanding in their commitment to our defence.”