Sheffield Steelers:

Jonathan Phillips
Jonathan Phillips
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Captain Jonathan Phillips believe the winner of next year’s Elite League will come from the so called ‘Conference of Death’ including Cardiff, Belfast, Nottingham and the Steelers.

“People are talking about us all taking lots of points off each other,” said Phillips “But that’s what we have done every year. I don’t see it changing too much.

“We have to make sure we have good records against the Devils, Giants and Panthers but most importantly that we don’t slip up in the 32 out-of-conference games against the other eight.

“I guess Coventry in the southern conference and Braehead up in the Scottish one will be licking their lips heading into the new season but both of those teams will have 16 wars with the big four arena clubs.

“Hey, if they have a winning record against us then they deserve it, but I don’t see that happening

“Cardiff are the champions and targets for us all, they will improve as well. They have the Champions League to look forward to and they will bolster their squad.

“Nottingham won’t have liked what happened last season, they will go out and bring some big names in. That’s the Nottingham way.

“Belfast will be an interesting one. They will have a new coach and I guess it’s who he retains and brings in that will determine how they do. I thought they were excellent last year.”

Phillips believes that all four teams in the Steelers’ conference will run four lines, something that perhaps the other teams won’t do.

“We have to run four lines,” he explained. “You see how fast and physical our games are against Cardiff, Nottingham and Belfast.

“Running three would be suicide. Then we have to take those four lines into the cross conference games and exploit that advantage.

“The pressure to win the league is on from game one, we know that, we carry that experience into the season.

“I think here in Sheffield we understand the pressure of those early cross conference games.

“They could be the ones that come March decide who lifts the trophy.”

The new EIHL conference system will see the Steelers play Nottingham Panthers, Cardiff Devils and Belfast Giants four times both at home and away.

The Steelers will then play the other eight EIHL sides twice at home and twice on the road making a 56-game league season.