Sheffield Steelers need to build winning streak and restore tough reputation in bid to win league

Sheffield Steelers must restore their reputation as a team that is difficult to beat at home, if they are to have any chance of winning the Elite League championship this season.

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 9:55 am
Davey Phillips - aiming high. Pic by Dean Woolley

In their last home game before the international break, Sheffield lost 5-1 at home to Nottingham Panthers, their fortress mentality raised to the ground.

In a sense, it was history repeating itself as Panthers had been the last visiting team to have won at Sheffield Arena, a 3-2 victory on New Year's Day.

It is comforting to know that Sheffield went on to win their next five league and Challenge Cup games at home - and it is precisely that sort of streak they need to build again, to compete for the title with EIHL rivals who have games in hand.

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Saturday sees the arrival of Dundee Stars, who have been hovering around the basement of the division - maybe a team some home supporters would pick to play against as Steelers have beaten them three times out of three so far.

And on Sunday, Steelers travel to bottom club Fife Flyers, where away points will be expected of them.

But defenceman Davey Phillips says the Sheffield roster would not be overlooking either Scottish opponent.

He agreed they could represent a banana skin, saying: "Yeah, both good teams, I feel like we have not played them for a long time to be honest.

"I am sure Foxy (coach Aaron Fox) will be doing a lot of pre-scouting on them and doing some video and homework as we haven't seem them for a while.

"There is no team we take lightly and these two teams can beat anyone."

Phillips agreed the Steelers' team needed to mend fences with the home fans after the last performance there against Nottingham.

"We never want to lose, no matter who we play," he said.

"Definitely against Nottingham, big rivals, big crowd. It wasn't our best performance.

"But you have got to move on from it and get two points against teams...every game is important now."

He said the Great Britain players would come back on the ice from Olympic international duty fresh and "ready to crack on trying to win that league, the Challenge Cup and possibly the play offs."

*Cardiff host fifth-place Coventry Blaze on Saturday and visit Guildford Flames on Sunday - the team that beat Steelers in their last game on February 2.