GERAD ADAMS says his Sheffield Steelers team need to concentrate on their own game if they are to stand any chance of picking up a first win of the season at the home of Elite League rivals Nottingham Panthers.
Three times the Steelers have entered the National Ice Centre this season, three times they have come back up the M1 smarting from defeat.
Nottingham still hold the advantage in the head-to-head series between the two sides, having won five of the eight meetings, but a 4-2 success for the Steelers on home ice last weekend will see them head south in buoyant mood.
Second-placed Steelers hold a two-point advantage over the Panthers, who sit immediately below them in the table. The South Yorkshire club remain three points adrift of leaders Braehead Clan, but with a game in hand.
Adams says his players - who defeated second-bottom Edinburgh Capitals 5-3 at Ice Sheffield on Friday night - will be undaunted going into a building they have struggled in so far this season and he is confident they can end their losing streak there.
“I think getting the win against them last time out is an advantage for us and we needed that,” said Adams. “We’ve played well in that building at times.
“To go into their rink wil just be like any other game against them. We’ve got to compete at a very high level and just make sure that the puck keeps going north.”
Adams acknowledges the importance of tonight’s clash at the NIC, in terms of the overall title race, and believes if his players stick to their strengths they could upset their hosts and enjoy a overdue smile on the 40-minute coach ride back to Sheffield.
“All these games we’ve got coming up against Nottingham are going to be incredibly big for us,” added Adams, with tonight’s clash being the first of three games in 10 days between the two sides with a two-legged Challenge Cup semi-final looming.
“Mainly, we just need to focus on us, focus on our speed, how we’re going to beat them, focus on our powerplay and make them cater for our game and worry about how we’re going to play.”
Like Steelers, Hull Stingrays are limited to the one game this weekend, but it’s a big one with regard to who finishes sixth in the overall league standings.
Fife Flyers currently occupy that spot, but the Stingrays welcome their Scottish rivals to Hull only two points behind and with four games in hand, picking up a valuable point in a 3-2 shoot-out defeat at Braehead Clan.
It will be Fife’s last regular season visit to East Yorkshire, with their last two trips proving triumphant, a run Hull’s Canadian forward Cory Tanaka is keen to see end.
“It is an important time of the year and we are playing well so hopefully we can keep the momentum going,” said Tanaka.
“We have lost our last two at home to Fife so we need a better showing. We just need to play our game and take it from there.”