Hard work and commitment essential as Sheffield Steelers prepare for EIHL leaders Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils
Sheffield Steelers' coach Tom Barrasso knows his team must sustain 60 minutes of disciplined, hard work if they are to have any chance of beating champions Cardiff Devils, for the first time this season.
The clubs collide in south Wales on Sunday. Sheffield have lost all four previous meetings, 6-2, 7-1, 3-2 and 7-3 must be at their very best if they are to change that depressing sequence.
"They are a very good team, to me they are the best in the League, in my opinion," said the team boss.
"Put them in a seven-game series, they beat everybody in the League.
"We played a really good 30 minutes last time down in Cardiff, we skated with them, competed with them, we put pucks deep we did all the hard things required to beat a high-skilled team and I thought we ran out of gas.
"So we have really got to stay focused on the idea that we have to be fresh ready and be committed to doing the things we do which is basically to defend hard with five men, put pucks behind their defence and be a little bit physical to get the puck back, and spend as much time in the offensive zone as possible."
Before that test, they entertain Belfast Giants at home, whom they beat 4-2 in their last meeting at Sheffield Arena.
"Our home games are crucial for us, we have been very competitive in this building for the most part," said Barrasso.
"It is something that we will focus on as we get prepared through the week.
"We are very much a day at a time existence right now as a group."
Barrasso also said defenceman and assistant coach Mark Matheson, currently out injured with a broken foot, was benefiting from standing behind the bench.
"I think it is great for Mark, to be around the team it is a good learning experience" he said, adding the Canadian was both patient and thoughtful, sound attributes for a coach.