Post-season push brings plenty of incentive for Hull Pirates and Sheffield Steeldogs

Sheffield Steeldogs and Hull Pirates are both in playoff action this weekend.' Picture by Charlotte Flanagan
Sheffield Steeldogs and Hull Pirates are both in playoff action this weekend.' Picture by Charlotte Flanagan
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JASON HEWITT says there is little danger of his Hull Pirates team taking their foot off the gas as they look to add to their North One league title.

The kind of clinical and controlled performance that Hull produced to beat title rivals Sheffield Steeldogs 8-3 at Ice Sheffield on Sunday is likely to be repeated this weekend when they take on Sutton Sting in a two-legged North playoff quarter-final.

“Everybody was in good mood at practice, understandably,” said Hewitt, whose team host the Sting tonight. “When hockey players are happy I think they naturally play their best and we looked good.”

Ultimately, Hewitt wants to lead his polayers out at the Final Four Weekend in Coventry on April 13 and 14, particularly with the prospect of facing two sides from NIHL South One division – the best of which they Sheffield and Telford Tigers have joined forces with to compete in the new National League from 2019-20 onwards.

“It will be interesting seeing how we measure up against them,” added Hewitt. “We played some of the South teams in the Autumn Cup early in the season and did quite well.

“I really believe our top three lines are second to none and compete with anyone around.”

Sheffield Steeldogs player-coach Ben Morgan. ''Picture: Peter Best.

Sheffield Steeldogs player-coach Ben Morgan. ''Picture: Peter Best.

Should Hull prevail this weekend – as expected – a semi-final with Solway Sharks is the likely reward, with Sheffield or Telford expected to be waiting in the final.

The Steeldogs must first take care of business this weekend against Blackburn Hawks, with Ben Morgan looking to ensure home advantage is maximised in tonight’s first leg.

“We’ve got a good opportunity to put a marker down on Saturday and, hopefully, that will make Sunday a little bit more straightforward,” said Morgan. “We are expected to win, but we’ll take them very seriously.

“They’ve got experienced players throughout the squad, a natural goalscorer in Robin Kovar who they have brought in, experienced defending and they’ve got young, gritty forwards, who will make it very difficult for us – especially at their rink.”

I think still, in the grand scheme of things, everyone realised that it has still been a fantastic season so far.

Sheffield Steeldogs’ player-coach, Ben Morgan.

Morgan said he was impressed with his players’ attitude when they returned to practice on Wednesday, just three days after their bitterly disappointing defeat at the hands of Hull, which saw the regular season crown pass to their White Rose rivals.

“The boys were buoyant in the changing room and still quite upbeat despite the disappointment of the weekend,” added Morgan. “But I think still, in the grand scheme of things, everyone realised that it has still been a fantastic season so far.

“To take the regular season title down to the last game and to lose out to the team who has probably got the most offence, to also win a Cup final and reach the final of the Autumn Cup – it’s been a successful season so far and there’s a lot to be thankful for.”