Steelers ready for tough weekend

SHEFFIELD STEELERS head into Cardiff on Saturday night looking to bring an end to the impressive 12-game unbeaten run of the Elite League's form team.

Cardiff Devils have emerged as a serious contender for honours this season under Gerad Adams, losing only one in the last 16.

A 3-2 win after a shoot-out at Nottingham Panthers recently saw the Devils serve further notice of their intent, as did the signing of former NHL defenceman Craig Weller and the 12-0 thrashing of Hull Stingrays in front of the live TV cameras three weeks ago.

Steelers head to South Wales still missing the influential Jeff Legue (finger) and player-coach Ben Simon is under no illusions as to how difficult it will be to return to home with a road win against a Devils side who have lost only once in the league on home ice and who are now level on points with their South Yorkshire rivals.

"They are by far the hottest team around at the moment," said Simon.

"They've got a good mix of everything and, in their rink, it's always a different kind of game. They play it very physical and they come at you hard and you have to be ready for them."

To listen to the latest edition of the YP's HockeyTalk podcast featuring Steelers' captain Jonathan Phillips, Hull's Matty Davies and journalist Stewart Roberts go HERE

Simon has taken Steelers into the smaller Cardiff Bay temporary rink twice already this season, losing out 5-4 in the Challenge Cup in September before returning a month later to suffer a 5-3 reverse in the league.

Tomorrow sees the Steelers back at Sheffield Arena to take on Coventry Blaze, who will be missing head coach Paul Thompson on the bench after he was handed a two-match ban following the infamous bench clearance in last Saturday's 2-1 home win over Nottingham.

Before Sunday's face-off, Steelers' legend Ron Shudra will be inducted into the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in a special ceremony.

Coventry will head to Sheffield less than 24 hours after taking on Hull at the Skydome Arena.

Hull coach Sylvain Cloutier, buoyed by wins over Steelers and Nottingham last week, expects Coventry to be keen on revenge after his side came away from their last visit to Croft Road with a 5-1 Challenge Cup win.

"We must be ready for Coventry as they will come out hard as they always do," said former Blaze captain Cloutier, who takes his improving side to bottom club Dundee Stars tomorrow night looking to avenge a demoralising 9-4 defeat there last month.

"Dundee are a good team," added Cloutier. "If you look at their schedule, they had to play four of the top five sides in the first month, they were a new team with a new player-coach.

"Dan (Ceman, Stars' player-coach) has made some changes and has improved his team. They also have a strong core of guys."