Niklas Nevalainen makes a big call on Sheffield Steelers

Niklas Nevalainen. Picture: Dean WoolleyNiklas Nevalainen. Picture: Dean Woolley
Niklas Nevalainen. Picture: Dean Woolley
Niklas Nevalainen believes top-of-the-league Sheffield Steelers will be an even stronger team in the second half of the season.

Aaron Fox's men had trailed leaders Guildford Flames for weeks, before leapfrogging over them on New Year's eve.

And Nevalainen thinks the team has now bonded so strongly they are in with a great chance of staying the course.

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"We had 15-16 new guys come in this year, it always takes time as a group to come together," he said.

"For sure it's going to be a lot easier than two months ago for example."

The smooth skating Finn added of the team's long winning streak: "I think we have been playing well all season, overall.

"Night in and night out you have to do the job we are supposed to do.

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"I trust the process we have - I'm not going to say surprised because I'm not, I trust the team and I believe that we can perform on that level.

"It needed a little luck in those (streak) games but it was not a surprise."

Sheffield hope to continue their winning series at Cardiff devils on Thursday night.

Steelers have won twice there but lost twice to the Welsh at home.

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"Cardiff has good team, overall, I still think both home games we could have won here (Arena) and in the away games I thought both times we played pretty good games" said Nevalainen.

Cardiff "can score if you give them a chance but if play the way we have been we should be just fine."

Nevalainen's chemistry with Matt Petgrave at the back has been one of the pivotal reasons behind Sheffield's success, so far.

Nevalainen said he had probably never iced with a player where they have enjoyed such great chemistry.

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"He is absolutely a great player, normally I am myself a little more offensive but now ofcourse Matt likes to play lot of offense so I try to do whatever we need to. My job is to be little bit more stay back and 'stay at home.'

"It's been really good, he's really easy to play with. We don't have to talk...we know where the other guy is going to be."

If Steelers win in Cardiff on Thursday, they will equal their best run ever in the Elite League. Sheffield won 12 on the bounce in 2009. Victory would put them three points clear of Guildford Flames at the top of the EIHL.