Sheffield Steeldogs had their most significant win of the season as they took maximum points to go top of the table – and proved a bigger point.
The 3-2 defeat of previous league leaders Telford broke a winless run against the big names of the NIHL.
It also showed character as they bounced back after the Tigers took the lead on a deflected shot with the Dogs taking the win following a third period fightback.
Steeldogs assistant captain Tim Smith thinks the reason for the success is clear; “We went in to it with a very clear game plan for the night and the whole team turned up, dug in and played for the full sixty minutes.
"Against the other former EPL teams, we have had times where we just didn’t play, we gave up goals, or we didn’t hold on to leads.
"You can’t afford to take your foot off the pedal because you get punished”.
Smith also believes playing for the top spot helped focus minds.
He said: “The importance of the game hit home for the boys, we know what we are playing for. If we are wanting to do something this year, we have to win these games.
"If we are going to be seriously challenging, you can’t throw points away on home ice. We had a good week in training, went in to the games confidently – all the preparation is paid dividends”.
Getting to the top of the pile is a plus but the challenges keep coming for the Dogs, and Smith is aware of the next battle; “This weekend is probably the toughest weekend of the season - it could be a crucial point in the season for us.
"The long trip up to Dumfries is tough and then you’re playing Solway who dominated the NIHL last year. They’ve added some Elite League players to their roster too.
"Blackburn are also a good team and if we can come out of those trips having taken points in both games, it could mean a lot for us.
“If we play good road games, concern ourselves with our performance and not who we are playing against, turn up as a unit and play the whole sixty minutes both nights, we will come out of the weekend with the points.
"We need to stay focused, stay in control of what we do and repeat the performance against Telford. Winning is a habit and it’s one the Dogs haven’t often had in the past, so hopefully we can push on from here”.