THEY may now be considered by many people as outsiders for the Elite League title, but Sheffield Steelers remain confident they can go on to make history by landing a third straight championship.
Two defeats last weekend to second-placed Belfast Giants was undoubtedly costly to the Steelers’ hopes of reining in both their visitors and leaders Cardiff Devils, who also enjoyed a four-point weekend.
But, with 17 games remaining and encounters against the top two still to come, hope remains for Paul Thompson’s team. It has to and the knowledge that Cardiff and Belfast still have to play each other four more times will only enhance that hope.
But regardless of the different permutations, the Steelers need to ensure that they are near-perfect between now and Sunday, March 26 when they wrap up the regular season at home to Coventry Blaze.
They travel to Thompson’s former club on Sunday where they will look to maintain the 100 per cent record they have over Danny Stewart’s team.
Before then, the Steelers play host to Dundee Stars on Saturday night, the Scottish club arriving in South Yorkshire locked in a battle with Coventry for the eighth and final play-off spot.
“It wasn’t just the results – in all fairness it wasn’t the best weekend in terms of our play,” said Thompson. “We just didn’t play anywhere near to what we know we can do, we made mistakes and we deserved what we got.
“We’ve been working hard this week to put that right. We’re not bothered whether people have written us off or anything like that. We just worry about ourselves and what we need to do.
“To do what we are trying to do and win three in a row has never been done before and that tells you of the challenge that lies ahead. Clearly, it isn’t easy – but we still believe we can do this.”
Thompson said the battle to make the play-offs between Dundee and Coventry meant his team would face two teams with plenty still to play for this weekend.
He added: “That’s better for us because they’ll both be looking to come at us that bit more, which is what we need.”