JONATHAN PHILLIPS says Sheffield Steelers will have to play ‘old-school hockey’ if they are to ensure they make their advantage count over Manchester Storm in tonight’s Challenge Cup quarter-final second leg.
The Elite League leaders head over to Altrincham sporting a 5-2 advantage from last week’s first leg at the FlyDSA Arena, but have lost on their three previous visits there this season.
The smaller ice at Altrincham – much like Cardiff Devils’ infamous ‘Big Blue Tent’ prior to their move to the purpose-built Viola Arena – means teams are rarely in for a comfortable night against Ryan Finnerty’s team.
On each previous visit this season, the Steelers have paid the price for not making their possession supremacy count, out-shooting their hosts comfortably each time, but always ending up on the losing side.
It’s a streak that Steelers’ captain Phillips is keen for his team to put an end to.
“It’s kind of like old-school hockey in a way,” said Phillips. “You can’t be trying to make fancy plays around the outside and float pucks in. It is literally a case of heads down and drive the net, just get the puck on net.
“We’ve just got to put the hard hats on and go to work.”
Phillips acknowledged that Manchester were past masters of capitalising on mistakes made by visiting teams.
“That is how they are built, that is how they play – they prey on you making mistakes,” said Phillips.
“They try to keep it as defensive as possible and play on our breakdowns, so we’ve just got to make sure we’re well-disciplined in all three zones.
“It’s a help being 3-0 ahead, obviously, but, we know we can’t just turn up there and expect to win, or expect to advance .
“We know we haven’t won there yet this season, so we have no right to take anything for granted.”