Belfast Giants v Sheffield Steelers: No margin for error in pursuit of Elite League crown

Marek Pinc, the No 1 choice goalie could return for Sheffield Steelers at Belfast Giants on Tuesday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Marek Pinc, the No 1 choice goalie could return for Sheffield Steelers at Belfast Giants on Tuesday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.

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LAST SEASON, on their way to winning the Elite League title, Sheffield Steelers lost a total of 17 games from the 52 played.

This morning, with 13 games remaining in their 2015-16 campaign, Paul Thompson’s team fly out to Belfast Giants having already lost 15 times - 12 of them in regulation.

It’s fair to say, the margin for error on the title run-in is minute.

An already battered, bruised and tired Steelers team were beaten twice by eighth-placed Coventry Blaze at the weekend, leaving them seven points adrift of leaders Cardiff Devils with two games in hand and two games still to come against the South Wales club.

The first of those games in hand comes tonight at the SSE Arena, where the Steelers won twice on their last visit in early January.

After the 5-1 defeat in Coventry on Sunday, head coach Thompson said No 1 goalie Marek Pinc could be ready to return to action to replace back-up Brad Day in Belfast, although he will still be missing injured forwards Colton Fretter, Robert Dowd and Guillaume Desbiens a trio he admitted he needs back sooner rather than later if Steelers are to win a fifth regular season championship.

Guillaume Desbiens remains on the sidelines for Steelers with an unspecified 'upper-body injury. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Guillaume Desbiens remains on the sidelines for Steelers with an unspecified 'upper-body injury. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Despite the lengthening odds on his team’s title hopes - some having already written off their chances - Thompson insists he has a group of players capable of putting together the required late surge in order to repeat last season’s success.

“This club was in this situation last year and it put its foot down and went (on to win the title). I have total belief in this group,” said Thompson.

“We didn’t have our best night on Sunday. Everybody will be looking for this reason and that reason as to why we lost, we just didn’t have our best night.

“We’ve got a great group here, but I’ve got a first line sitting in the stands and our No 1 goalie sitting on the sidelines.

This club was in this situation last year and it put its foot down and went (on to win the title). I have total belief in this group

Paul Thompson, Sheffield Steelers’ head coach

“And that’s nothing against Brad or anybody else who is out there but, in a way, we’re waiting for the cavalry to come back and we’ve just got to pick up points along the way.”

Paul Thompson, believes his Sheffield Steelers' team have what it takes to retain their Elite League crown. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Paul Thompson, believes his Sheffield Steelers' team have what it takes to retain their Elite League crown. Picture: Dean Woolley.

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