Steelers seek to close gap on front-runners

Sheffield Steelers head coach barks out orders to players on the Steelers' bench. Picture: Dean Woolley
Sheffield Steelers head coach barks out orders to players on the Steelers' bench. Picture: Dean Woolley
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Sheffield Steelers look to make up ground on the leading teams this weekend when they face two of them inside 24 hours.

Paul Thompson’s fifth-placed side, who with eight have played the fewest games in Elite League, visit arch-rivals and third-placed Nottingham Panthers tonight before welcoming early-season pace-setters Cardiff Devils to the Motorpoint Arena on Sunday night.

“It is a big weekend again,” said Thompson, who steered his side into the next phase of the Challenge Cup with a 4-1 win at Manchester Storm on Wednesday night.

“Panthers away, is always a challenge and the visit of Cardiff Devils to the Arena on Sunday is going to be interesting.

“They are top of the league but we have been in outstanding form at the Arena.”

Forty-year-old former Montreal Canadiens forward David Ling returns for Panthers, a player Thompson has enormous respect for.

“He is an offensive talent. We have to match what he brings. We need the right player against him,” said Thompson.

Thompson has also hailed the impact of Swedish import Fredrick Vestberg who has contributed four points in his last three games.

“There is a trait amongst Swedes,” said the coach who used to represent Troja-Ljungby in the Allsvenskan league. “They are very responsible, don’t mess up and are not flashy. Fredrik doesn’t make mistakes and is a good player gets in the right place just when you need it.

“The more you see of him the more you can appreciate the things he can do.

“Away from the puck he makes the right decisions, defends well and is one of our stronger penalty killers.”