Happy Hewitt feels hard work can lead to title

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IT had been a good day all round for Jason Hewitt.

He’d scored, had a fight with an American import, helped Sheffield Steelers to victory...and his favourite football team, Manchester United, had gone top of the Premier League, giving him dressing room bragging rights over team-mate Mark Thomas.

Sunday was indeed an evening to remember for the 28-year-old Mancunian.

But it won’t count for much if his ice hockey side don’t win twice at Belfast Giants next weekend, in regular time, to give them a chance of retaining the Elite League title.

Steelers face a daunting task. Can they possibly succeed? “We have to work really hard, that’s the top and bottom of it” said Hewitt.

“Each time Belfast have beaten us convincingly it’s because they outworked us. They are a hard working team with skill too so we have to outwork them and get in the dirty areas and see what happens. At times this season we’ve played certain teams and get used to their style and forget how intense they Belfast are. Maybe we weren’t prepared. But this weekend, we will be.”

Hewitt knows his pal Rob Dowd, who has averaged two points a game over the last eight matches, presents a potent threat.

“Dowdy is a special player and will be a factor, but we can’t worry about him when they have other quality players like Jon Pelle and Craig Peacock.”

Instead, Hewitt believes Sheffield will have the strength to prevail.

“I have no doubt that (goaltender) Johnny DeCaro can put on a show like he did on Sunday (4-0 shutout win over Cardiff.) Roddy Sarich being back from injury is massive for us. And Jeff Legue and Mike Ramsay will be key. “We have three deep lines, enough to pose anyone problems.”

Steelers have five league games left, Giants have three. Sheffield trail the leaders by seven points. Tonight, Belfast play the second leg of the Challenge Cup final, at Nottingham Panthers. They start 5-1 down.