MATHIEU ROY is fully aware of how much this weekend means to Sheffield Steelers’ fans - particularly given they have not been able to celebrate their team lifting any silverware so far this season.
The 30-year-old talismanic winger will once again be expected to play a pivotal role for the Steelers as they go head-to-head once again with their fiercest rivals, this time the prize being a place at the traditional Final Four Weekend at Nottingham’s National Ice Centre.
READ/WATCH MORE - Video/Poll: Is it time to change the Elite League play-off format?
READ/WATCH MORE - Steelers v Panthers: Markus Nilsson plots triumphant end to debut season
From the first moment he walked through the doors at Sheffield Arena in August 2014, Roy has been aware of the huge importance attached to Steelers-Panthers encounters.
A two-time league title winner with the Steelers, Roy has only experienced pain in the play-offs with the South Yorkshire club, losing out to Coventry Blaze in the 2014-15 final before losing out to the same opponents at the quarter-final stage last season.
And while he accepts that all games against Nottingham special, Roy is quick to appreciate the added importance of this weekend’s double header.
I know how much this means to the people of Sheffield and the Steelers fans, especially this year with not winning that league titleSheffield Steelers’ Mathieu Roy
“I know how much this means to the people of Sheffield and the Steelers fans, especially this year with not winning that league title,” said Roy earlier this week. “It makes this a very big weekend for us.
“Games against the Panthers are big enough anyway, but this is obviously that bit bigger than normal. We’ve been working hard all week towards that and we’re all just ready to get going.
“It’s obviously hard to lose out like we did in the Challenge Cup Final and then see the league title go to Cardiff too, but Cardiff are a good team this year - you can’t get away from that, but we’ve still got a chance to win a trophy this season and that all starts this Saturday.
“Every guy in our room knows what they can do, what they are capable of and we feel pretty good about things at the moment.”
And while the intensity of a Steelers-Panthers game can never be escaped, they are still the kind of games Roy takes great enjoyment in - something backed up by the fact he has scored eight goals in 12 meetings with them this season. An archetypal thorn in the side.
“The first thing when I came here was people telling me about the rivalry with Nottingham, but they are really enjoyable games both at their rink and ours because the fans get into it so much and the atmosphere is always a bit special.
“And it is always better to score against Nottingham.”