CAPTAIN Jonathan Phillips is confident Sheffield Steelers can prevail in their ‘must-win’ double-header with Belfast Giants this weekend – but insisted there is little danger of the Elite League champions getting ahead of themselves.
The Steelers go into the back-to-back fixtures having enjoyed a slender 2-1 win over Nottingham Panthers in the first leg of their Challenge Cup semi-final in midweek, adding to their overdue road win in the league at leaders Cardiff Devils on Sunday.
Belfast arrive sitting second in the table, one point shy of Cardiff but three ahead of the Steelers.
Despite having the better of the head-to-head series against second-placed Belfast so far this season – winning three of the five encounters, two of which have been 5-1 wins at home – Phillips dismissed any danger of complacency creeping in.
“We’ve got too much experience to get too far ahead of ourselves, we know how dangerous Belfast can be,” said Phillips.
“It’s imperative to beat your title rivals, especially at home. You can afford to slip up on the road against them a little, but two home games against a rival? These are big points.”
This season the Steelers are gunning for a sixth overall and third straight EIHL title, but Phillips claimed the players are not thinking beyond this weekend.
“This season hasn’t been solely about winning a third consecutive championship, it’s just been about another season trying to win a trophy and not putting too much pressure on ourselves,” he added.
“When you are at a club like Sheffield, you expect yourself to win. You need to take it for what it is and just enjoy the season you’re playing.”
Phillips said the Steelers needed to be wary of a Belfast side who are on something of a roll themselves, losing just three of their last 19 games.
“We need to focus on ourselves, first and foremost,” said Phillips.
“If you look at the games we’ve lost, we’ve been our own worst enemy.
“We just need to stay focused for the full 60 minutes.
“They’ve got a lot of skill, they’re a fast team and offensively they’re very good. But we know that when we get going were very hard to beat.”