David Simms’ Sheffield Steelers’ ice hockey column: Come on Sheffield, let’s get after Cardiff Devils in the quarter finals
The Steelers and the Cardiff Devils have contested the last two play-off finals, this weekend they go head-to-head in the quarter finals.
Tom Barrasso’s side entertain the Devils in Sheffield on Saturday night and a repeat of the Steelers 5-4 recent home victory is the least that the head coach can ask for from his team.
The reality is that the Steelers’ must take a first-leg lead down to Cardiff on Sunday, so far this year the Devils have dominated games in Wales.
Having to go there and win on Sunday will be a difficult if not impossible task.
So all efforts are geared to what will be an incredible home finale of the season.We showed less than a month ago that the Devils are beatable, that was at a time when they were rolling over every side in front of them.
That loss to the Steelers certainly disrupted the Devils assault on the league title.
Their final three games were against 8, 9 and 10 in the league, they failed to collect enough points in those games, losing to Dundee and Coventry which left the smallest of gaps for Belfast to crawl into and lift the league championship.
Andrew Lord is an intense head coach, a control freak and it will be interesting to see how he has coped this past week.
The disappointment in Cardiff will be off the chart.
Does he get the players back on the ice and go hard, does he beat dog or does he take a couple of days off and then try and re-set his group?
I know what I’d do and I think I know what he will have done.
In my opinion his team is the best in the league, Belfast didn’t win the title, Cardiff lost it.
I tip my hat to Belfast, they stuck around, they put the pressure on Cardiff and the Devils failed to cope.
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Good job Belfast but all inside Cardiff will know they assisted the Giants title win. No question.
First goal is key on Saturday, the building will be full, the atmosphere terrific.
If we can score that first goal, who knows what the pressure on the Devils will be?
Pressure could be our best friend this weekend, where possible we have to heap it on the lads from Wales. Scoring that first goal will certainly help.
I was delighted for captain Jonathan Phillips on Monday night, he was recognised at our club awards by winning three different categories including the coaches’ player of the year and the players’ player of the year.
Inside the club we all know how important Jonno is, sometimes we take him for granted, sometimes we over look him because we have other special talents like Dowd and O’Connor.
Sometimes it’s right that we remember the unsung work he does.
His work ethic is off the chart, his commitment to our club is unrivalled.
His coach, his players and everyone inside this club recognises that he is a huge cog in our wheel.
My predictions for the other three quarter finals are as follows. Belfast to beat Coventry, Guildford to knock out Fife and Nottingham to take the Glasgow Clan. Everyone outside Sheffield will add “Cardiff to beat the Steelers” but I’m not so sure.
This crazy year might just have one last sting in its tail. Come on Sheffield, let’s do this.