NETMINDER Frank Doyle says Sheffield Steelers should take confidence from their Boxing Day win over arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers and not be intimidated when the two sides meet again tonight at the National Ice Centre.
The 33-year-old Canadian enjoyed a 34-save shutout on Thursday as Doug Christiansen’s stuttering charges posted a 2-0 win over the defending Elite League champions in front of 8,000 fans at the Motorpoint Arena.
Both teams have struggled for consistency this season, with the Steelers’ best run in the league being a three-game win streak back in October.
Thursday night’s triumph, however – courtesy of goals from Robert Dowd and Rob Sirianni – took them up to third in the table, although they remain 13 points behind leaders Belfast Giants, who won 4-1 against Braehead Clan last night.
Doyle said the triumph over Nottingham meant a lot to the Steelers’ players given their recent struggles.
“It was a big win for us on Boxing Day, as a group we are pulling together and we really do want to do well for everybody involved with the club,” said Doyle.
“We’ve got such a great group of guys here, that win meant such a lot to us.
“I hope the win on Boxing Day is a turning point for us. Hockey, like any sport, is about confidence, and everybody in our room should take a lot of confidence from the win because we played well and beat a great team.
“We’ve got to take that confidence into Saturday and believe we can beat them again because it will be tough in their barn.”
Hull Stingrays return to action tonight, hoping to bounce back from last Sunday’s 5-3 Gardiner Conference defeat at Fife Flyers, who built on that with a 5-1 Boxing Day win over Edinburgh Capitals, tonight’s visitors to East Yorkshire.
The last time the two sides met was two weeks ago at the same venue when Hull won 7-1 – a scoreline player-coach Sylvain Cloutier said was not a true reflection on Edinburgh’s quality.
The Capitals currently sit bottom in the overall league standings, but have enjoyed the occasional stunning result, including a 7-6 win over Nottingham.
“That was one of those nights it just worked for us, whereas nothing went right for Edinburgh,” said Cloutier, who will be without defenceman Martin Ondrej for three games after the Slovakian saw a minor penalty for elbows in last week’s stunning 7-5 win over Panthers upgraded to a match penalty for checking to the head.
“Edinburgh have beaten Nottingham and they are not a bad team, you just have to look at some of their results and who they have beaten.”