Goalie riddle as Sheffield Steelers lie in wait for Belfast Giants
Sheffield Steelers' snipers are going into another championship-defining weekend wondering which goaltender they will be trying to beat.
The reigning champions take on second-spot Belfast Giants, knowing that two regulation wins will see them overtake them.
The main obstacle will be Giants’ goaltender - it will be either Jackson Whistle - son of former Steelers boss Dave - or Stephen Murphy.
Whistle has had the most success so far against Sheffield - he was in the crease for the two 2-1 victories for the Irish in January and December.
Murphy has lost both games against Sheffield, by 4-1 and 5-1, but is ofcourse a quality netminder - so not much can be read into that.
Whistle appears to have hip issues and may find it difficult to play back to back games.
But both men are on form, Murphy was in the 6-0 shut out of Dundee Stars on January 21 and Whistle helped his side beat Nottingham Panthers the night before.
Cardiff Devils, who are currently one point clear at the top of the Elite League, will be hoping for a split weekend at Sheffield Arena.
The Welsh have their own challenges, they face Nottingham at home on Saturday before travelling 440 miles to Fife Flyers on Sunday.
Steelers official Dave Simms said: “All games are big ones, but this weekend is super-critical for us.
“While we were delighted to have won at Nottingham in the Challenge Cup semi final first leg on Wednesday, I personally would rate the Belfast games as more important.
“The League is in our DNA. Our success or failure in that competition is always what defines our season. The fans seem to think the same, we are expecting around 6,500 for Saturday’s home game at the Arena.”
Simms said Sheffield’s own goaltender, Ervins Mustukovs, was in sensational form.
“He is rock-solid. All we ever wanted from a goalie was to give us a chance to win - and he does that.”