How to catch Cardiff Devils - and what Sheffield Steelers coach thinks of Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers, Belfast Giants, Fife Flyers and Guildford Flames.

Sheffield Steelers coach admits Cardiff Devils have a team designed to do the "near-impossible" - and win a third straight League title.

Tuesday, 24th July 2018, 7:56 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th July 2018, 3:52 pm
Steelers - after being beaten in the Playoff final by Cardiff

Paul Thompson is putting together a team he believes can put a spoke in the wheel of the Devils' machine.

But he knows they will again be the team to beat.

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The Star asked Thompson the question: How can Steelers slow down and then overtake this almost invincible Cardiff juggernaut?

He replied: "They are the target. They are the ceiling, they are the team that if we are to have success we have to catch.

"But I think our recruitment shows that we are looking to totally change what we had had on the back of last year to help us achieve that with the style of players and the age of players coming in.

"Winning back to back trophies - I have done that a couple of times.

Steelers - after being beaten in the Playoff final by Cardiff

"Winning three on a row has proved to be near-on impossible. But they have a club right now that is geared to do that. We have got to make sure we are the ones that stop it.

"I think Lordo (Andrew Lord) has done a fantastic job. Prior to them winning, the last couple of years, they were knocking on the door and it was us that was winning."

Thompson's former right hand man Jerry Andersson has described Devils' Joey Martin as the EIHL's undisputed top player.

"I think Joey Martin IS the best player in the League" Thompson agreed.

Andrew Lord

"I think he has everything. I think his commitment away from the puck, with the puck, he's clutch, he makes great players greater.

"I think that is the sign of a hell of a hockey player.

"He kills penalties, he blocks shots, he does whatever it takes for his team.

"He absolutely, 100%, could be playing in way higher leads than he is but obviously him and his family have settled in Cardiff unfortunately!

"The rest of the League has tried to get him out every year!

Thompson also admired what Manchester Storm achieved in coming second to Cardiff.

But he added: "I think now that Conferencing is gone and everybody plays each other equally that might level it out a little bit more."

He stressed he was taking nothing away from what they did, with a solid defence, toughness and "a high skill-set that can execute."

He said Guildford Flames had "two or three of the better forwards in the league (last season) and have added to that."

Nottingham Panthers had a new coach and were assembling a "tasty roster and a big back end."

Fife Flyers and Belfast Giants would also have highly competitive line-ups.