Blaze pose threat insists Hill as Steelers look to stay on top

While all eyes will be on Sheffield Steelers’ trip to Elite League title rivals Cardiff Devils tomorrow, forward Phil Hill is focussing on the threat posed by Coventry Blaze, who visit South Yorkshire tonight.

BIG WEEKEND: Sheffield Steelers' Phil Hill. Picture: Dean Woolley.
BIG WEEKEND: Sheffield Steelers' Phil Hill. Picture: Dean Woolley.

After losing out to Cardiff on home ice in last Sunday’s Challenge Cup Final, the Steelers exacted fierce revenge on Wednesday when thrashing the same opponents 11-0.

The result saw Steelers return to the top of the standings for the first time since January 2, moving one point clear of Braehead Clan with four games remaining with Cardiff in third, four points adrift but with a game in hand.

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After Wednesday’s one-sided encounter turned brutal in the third period – two Devils’ players received game misconduct penalties – everybody is expecting a fiesty encounter when the two teams meet again in South Wales tomorrow.

But Hill – a former Cardiff player – is initially concerned with tonight’s visit from Coventry, who, under Chuck Weber, are the league’s form team with a six-game winning streak.

“They have had success against us and we match up well,” said Hill of a resurgent Blaze team who have won the last two encounters between the two rivals.

“There will be no complacency from us – we certainly won’t be getting carried away with the scoreline from Wednesday night.

“This is the part of the season you always want to be involved in.

“After the success we had on Wednesday we know exactly what is required from hereon in.

“There isn’t a person getting carried away with where we are, but there also isn’t one of us who doesn’t think it is possible either”

Hull Stingrays, pushing Coventry close as part of a four-way fight for the three remaining play-off places, host Cardiff tonight.

They then travel to Coventry on Sunday for the first of three meetings in nine days between the two.

And while the play-offs are the minimum aim for player-coach Omar Pacha, he has not given up hope of pipping rivals Coventry to sixth spot.

Pacha is impressed with the impact enjoyed at the SkyDome Arena by Blaze coach Chuck Weber, who has transformed the team since he was brought in as the permanent successor to the sacked Marc LeFebvre.

“He has a lot of experience and a great resume,” said Pacha.

“We have a three-game series against them and it will determine who finishes where in the table. Sixth spot is still up for grabs and that starts Saturday.

“We are going to be short again but it is tough at this time of the year. It’s time to put up or shut up and hopefully we can do enough to get some points.”

Cardiff will arrive in Hull on Saturday no doubt still bruised from their thrashing at the hands of the Steelers in midweek and Pacha is expecting some kind of reaction.

Cardiff and Sheffield are the only two teams Hull have failed to beat this season.

“Our two games at home against Cardiff have been very tight and we hope we can keep it close again,” added Pacha.

“It will be interesting to see how they react from their loss to Sheffield. We just need to make sure we stay disciplined and play to the system.

“They will be looking for the points to keep them in the title race and we want the points because we want to clinch a play-off spot as soon as possible.”