Momentum key for Sheffield Steelers’ playoff chances

ONE win this weekend might prove enough to clinch an Elite League play-off spot for Sheffield Steelers – but captain Jonathan Phillips does not want his team simply to limp into the post-season.

Jonathan Phillips celebrates his goal against Cardiff Devils last Saturday with line-mate Anthony DeLuca - who scored the other four. Picture: Dean Woolley.

The Steelers are still looking to salvage something from a stop-start campaign and will hope last week’s thrilling 5-4 win over current EIHL leaders and defending champions Cardiff Devils will give them the momentum required to go all the way to Nottingham and the Final Four Weekend.

Once there anything can happen and Tom Barrasso’s side will now possess some welcome confidence as a result of that win over Andrew Lord’s two-time champions.

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Not that it will top their list of priorities this weekend, but the Steelers can do leaders Cardiff a huge favour if they beat Belfast Giants tomorrow, particularly after a 5-2 defeat at Manchester Storm last night left Adam Keefe’s second-placed side four points adrift of the Devils with just four games remaining.

Before heading across the Irish Sea tomorrow, however, the Steelers could clinch a play-off berth themselves if victory over bottom club Milton Keynes at Sheffield Arena tonight (7pm) is combined with a defeat for Ryan Finnerty’s Storm in Cardiff.

“It was good to finally get the better of Cardiff,” said Phillips.

“Rather than sit back we forced them more than in previous games and we were more aggressive in our skating.

“But we need to play like that in every game from hereon in, not just in the remaining league games but right through the play-offs.

“We don’t want to just make the play-offs, we need to make sure that we go in there and are seen as one of the form sides because it is a very short post-season.

“We need momentum and last week’s win against Cardiff certainly gives us that.

“If we can pull something off it would certainly make up for what has been a hit-and-miss regular season. When we’re all firing and on song we are a very tough team to beat and we need to make sure we’re like that from now until the end of the season.”

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