ASHLEY Tait has urged his Sheffield Steelers team-mates to stay focused ahead of their Elite League clash with strugglers Dundee Stars.
The third-placed South Yorkshire club enjoyed a perfect weekend last time out, winning three games in as many days on the road to close the gap on leaders Belfast Giants to seven points, while having five games in hand.
Dundee will arrive at the Motorpoint Arena on Sunday (5pm) having won only five games all season and sit six points behind eighth-placed Hull Stingrays, who currently occupy the last place for the end-of-season play-offs.
One-goal wins at bottom club Fife Flyers and seventh-placed Edinburgh Capitals last weekend – coming on the back of a 4-1 win at Coventry Blaze on Friday – was evidence enough for 36-year-old player/assistant-coach Tait that their latest Scottish opponent will prove an equally tough obstacle to overcome as they look to extend a four-game winning streak.
“Both of those teams (in Scotland) ran us very close at the weekend and there isn’t any reason why Dundee won’t do the same,” said GB international Tait.
“Dundee have some excellent players and have put in some good performances in recent weeks.
“After all the effort we put in last weekend with the three wins in three nights, it would be crazy if we let our concentration slip and lose on Sunday.
“As long as we keep our focus and play to our strengths then we have enough firepower to keep this run of ours going.”
Hull Stingrays’ Matty Davies, meanwhile, insists it’s not too late for the eighth-placed strugglers to turn their season around.
Sylvain Cloutier’s misfiring team remain in pole position for the final play-off spot but, having lost 12 of their last 14 league games, will be increasingly concerned at the potential for Dundee Stars and Fife Flyers to overtake them.
Saturday sees them welcome Edinburgh Capitals to Hull Arena – the team currently sitting one place and four points above them in the table – before a trip to Coventry Blaze on Sunday.
“Our goal is to catch Edinburgh, finish the season well and go into the play-offs with confidence,” said Davies.
“I have no doubt we will finish in the top eight, but we don’t want to be just scraping into the play-offs.
“Edinburgh is a must-win game for us. I know that is often said in sport, but in our case this is a game we just cannot afford to lose.”