Sheffield Steelers v Cardiff Devils - Captain Phillips keen to halt losing streak against champions

TAKE THAT: Sheffield Steelers' Tom Zanoski is taken to the ice by a Cardiff defender in January's meeting between the two at Sheffield Arena. Picture: Dean Woolley.
TAKE THAT: Sheffield Steelers' Tom Zanoski is taken to the ice by a Cardiff defender in January's meeting between the two at Sheffield Arena. Picture: Dean Woolley.
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CAPTAIN Jonathan Phillips says Sheffield Steelers must seize the initiative and "fight fire with fire" if they are to finally bet the better of reigning Elite League champions Cardiff Devils.

Andrew Lord's team arrive at Sheffield Arena tonight (7pm) looking to strengthen their claims for a third straight regular season championship as they continue their head-to-head battle at the top with second-placed Belfast Giants.

Cardiff will hit the ice in understandably confident mood against the Steelers - who have no other game this weekend - having won all five previous regular season meetings between the two in 2018-19.

But sixth-placed Steelers are locked in a fierce battle just to make the playoffs and desperate for points, with Phillips insisting an aggressive approach is required if the hosts are to taking anything from tonight's encounter.

"We want these points as much as they do," said Phillips. "What have we got to lose but to go out there and give it everything on what is a one-game weekend for us.

"It is a massive game for both sides, for different reasons and we need to embrace that. They are very well-drilled and have kept together a large nucleus of that roster for some years now, which is a big reason for their success.

Sheffield Steelers' captain, Jonathan Phillips. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Sheffield Steelers' captain, Jonathan Phillips. Picture: Dean Woolley.

"But the more aggressive we can be in their zone the better, play them at their own game, if you like and fight fire with fire."

While encounters with Cardiff in South Wales have proved forgettable on all three occasions this season - the Steelers conceding a combined 19 goals - Phillips takes encouragement from the last encounter in South Yorkshire between the two sides, which saw the hosts unlucky to lose out 3-2 to the two-time champions courtesy of a late Gleason Fournier strike.

Phillips also believes last week's home performance in a 4-1 win over Fife Flyers in front of a near-9,000 crowd also offers reasons for optimism.

"We played a proper 60-minute game against Fife and, the last time Cardiff were in our building we gave them a really good game," added Phillips. "That should give us some encouragement, the fact we can go with these guys for certain periods - we’ve definitely showed that we can play with them."