SHEFFIELD STEELERS may be overwhelming favourites for tomorrow’s Elite League play-off semi-final against Hull Stingrays, but captain Jonathan Phillips insists they will be taking no chances.
In six meetings between the two Yorkshire rivals this season, the Steelers – crowned regular season league champions two weeks ago – have prevailed on every occasion.
But Hull have caused problems for their more illustrious opponents during each meeting and, with last weekend’s unexpected quarter-final series win over Braehead Clan, have given Gerad Adams’s team plenty to ponder ahead of the lunchtime clash at Nottingham’s National Ice Centre (1pm).
Phillips, whose team were given a mighty scare in their two-legged quarter-final with Fife Flyers before edging through 6-5 on aggregate, said Hull were a team that can cause plenty of problems if allowed to.
“We’re going into the final four weekend with a lot of confidence,” said Phillips. “But we know that there is a very tough game ahead against Hull.
“They are a good team and have proved that throughout the season with some of the results that they have pulled off and they proved it again last weekend by beating Braehead.
“The fact we have beaten them every time we have played them this season means nothing – this is a big, one-off game.
“They are young and quick and have a lot of skill in their team and we’re going to have to stay focused at all times.”
The Steelers go in as defending champions having beaten Belfast Giants 3-2 in overtime last year thanks to Drew Fata’s wonder strike.
There could be a repeat of that final on the cards this year if Steelers see off Hull and belfast get the better of Coventry Blaze in the other semi-final tomorrow.