Chance for Steeldogs to close the gap

BUOYED by their first win in 13 games, Sheffield Steeldogs will be hoping to close the gap on their play-off rivals by maintaining their 100 per cent record against Telford Tigers at Ice Sheffield on Saturday - their only game of the weekend.

Last Sunday's 4-3 win over title-challenging Slough Jets - their first over the Berkshire club in six meetings this season - is hopefully a sign of the Steeldogs' fortunes turning around, particularly coming on the back of a heavy defeat in Basingstoke.

Steeldogs will by boosted by the debut of Andre Payette, who has a history of playing in the OHL, AHL and Elite League, before spending a season with Manchester Phoenix last year.

Coach Matt Darlow said the addition of hard man Payette would enable his young team to play the kind of hockey they were capable of.

"He brings with him an uncompromising style of hockey and is a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve for his team," said Darlow.

"He can be the catalyst that allows the Steeldogs to settle down and play the type of hockey we all know is within the team given the backup of a fearsome guy like Andre."

Telford will arrive in South Yorkshire five points ahead of the Steeldogs, but on the back of defeats to Basingstoke and bottom club Bracknell last weekend.

However, the Tigers, back in he league after a one-year absence have won four of their last seven games, including a notable 5-4 win over current EPL leaders Guildford Flames.

The Steeldogs hold the upper-hand over Tom Watkins's team so far this season, however, winning 4-3 in overtime in Shropshire in September before securing a 7-5 triumph over Telford at the same venue a month later.

After last weekend's stunning triumph against Slough, Steeldogs coach Darlow said: "We know we can beat anyone in this league and saw on Sunday against Slough that we can play good effective hockey back-stopped by the best keeper in this league and with a bunch of guys who did everything to win after a week with no training at all."

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