Sheffield Steelers prepare to further dent Cardiff Devils’ silverware ambitions
Sheffield Steelers know that Cardiff Devils will be a team aiming to vent their frustration out on them on Saturday.
The Welsh were stopped from winning their third straight league trophy with an unexpected 3-1 loss at Coventry Blaze, who finished eighth, 30 points behind Cardiff and new champions Belfast Giants.
Andrew Lord, Devils coach, said he was virtually "speechless" after the loss, which meant Giants had won the division courtesy of more regulation wins.
"It can be an amazing game, it can be a very cruel and humbling game," he said.
"To lose on a tie-break, it just hurts. This is going to sting for a very long time."
Devils now travel to Sheffield on Saturday for the first leg of the play off quarter-final, with the return on Sunday.
His Sheffield counterpart Tom Barrasso was taken aback that Giants had pipped Devils. "That is surprising. They are a very good team obviously, I am sure they are going to be very disappointed to not win the league title having led the league for most of the season" said the coach. "It just goes to show that they are fallible and can be beaten.
"We have beaten them ourselves on one occasion; they have made us look bad on a few occasions. But we will spend the week trying to get ourselves prepared. It is going to be about work and commitment and doing the things that we do and we compete as hard as we can."
Barrasso, whose own side beat Milton Keynes Lightning on Sunday, paid tribute to Giants saying they were a team that never folded.
"They are obviously a very good team as well, those two clearly separated themselves from everybody else."
But he added: "From top to bottom, I like Cardiff's depth.
"The game of hockey is very fickle it only takes one or two things or a performance by a goaltender and the next thing you know you are on the wrong end of something."
Barrasso is happy to have the first leg at home.
"We have beaten them in our building and we have played them hard in our building.
"So I think that is a bonus for us from a confidence perspective."