BEN Simon will lean on his more experienced players to bring the Elite League title home to Sheffield.
The Steelers’ coach says it is vital that the team - seven points clear at the pinnacle of the division - retains its momentum and focus.
And for that, his ‘winners’ must play a part. Simon said: “At this point of the year when you only have eight games left and you have come this far, it’s not the time to slack off and the players realise that. And with the experience we have, I think that will take care of itself. Guys have had success back in the States, and Canada, and in this league before - and I think once you’ve been there it is easy (as a coach) to kind of lean on them, more.”
Simon will be talking about the likes of Ashley Tait, who has won five championships for Coventry Blaze and three for Sheffield, and AHL trophy winners Steve Munn and Kevin Bolibruck. Those three, in particular, were immense in last weekend’s wins over Cardiff Devils.
Steelers need a maximum of 12 points out of 16 to ensure the title. By next Saturday, they could have reduced that to eight points.
Simon said: “Six wins? That really emphasises the importance of the games coming up. On Thursday (Dundee Stars, h) and Saturday (Hull Stingrays h) we have to take control of our own destiny. It’s a good position to be in rather than worrying about what other teams are doing.
“We don’t want to be over-confident but the emphasis is to realise what we have done to get to this point. It is not time to stray from that. We’ve been successful for a reason. We gave to go about our business like we have been all year and keep an eye on the prize.”
Steelers have a bigger salary budget than Cardiff - and that suddenly seems to be on the mind of Devils’ coach Gerad Adams. Referring to the suspension of Tylor Michel he said: “The way our team is designed, and with our budget versus some other teams, we rely on a full, healthy roster. It’s hard to get the best out of guys when some are double shifting so hard.”