Steeldogs look to avoid being burnt by Flames

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SHEFFIELD Steeldogs’ head coach Andre Payette admits he is over the moon with his young team’s impressive start to the new season.

Steeldogs have surprised many observers and currently sit third in the English Premier League table after winning six of their first 10 games, leaving them one point behind joint leaders Milton Keynes and Slough.

Former Newcastle Viper favourite Payette - who came in midway through last season for his first coaching role - believes that on-ice chemistry is the reason behind his side’s success.

“We are really gelling together nicely as a team and I couldn’t have hoped for a better start to this season,” he said.

Payette will be hoping the run of good form continues this weekend when they take on fourth-placed Guildford Flames twice in a rare home double header. The teams first do battle on Saturday (7.30pm) in a match which also counts towards the Premier Cup, before clashing again on Sunday (5.30pm).

Reigning play-off champions Guildford enjoyed a 5-3 midweek win over defending league champions Manchester Phoenix on Wednesday, coming hot on the heels of a 7-0 thrashing of Swindon.

Former Sheffield Steelers’ forward David Longstaff has notched up 15 points in just nine games for the Flames, while Steeldogs’ will be hoping the prolific Janis Ozolins can add to his tally of 14 points, including nine goals.

And while the more expensively-assembled Flames will go into the weekend favoured to emerge with more points than their hosts, Steeldogs have plenty of reasons to be optimistic themselves after bouncing back from a 4-3 overtime loss at home to Telford on Saturday by winning 5-2 in Peterborough on Sunday.

“We had a mixed set of results last weekend,” added Payette. “It was a tough loss on the Saturday night, but the guys bounced back with one of our best games this year.”

To mark the occasion of hosting two matches against the same opponents on one weekend, the Steeldogs are offering free entry for children to both games along with a free raffle for those wearing their favourite hockey shirts.

Adults £9; Concessions £6.50; Kids: Free. See for more details.