Sheffield Steeldogs coach Ben Morgan predicts many ups and downs in NIHL National

BEN MORGAN believes it won’t be until early December when the likely candidates for honours in the inaugural NIHL National season will begin to emerge.

RIDING HIGH: Sheffield Steeldogs player-coach' Ben Morgan. Picture: Cerys Molloy.

The Sheffield Steeldogs’ player-coach leads his team into the weekend top of the early-season standings, but is prepared for there to be plenty of fluctuation in the table over the coming weeks.

After tonight’s visit from Peterborough Phantoms to Ice Sheffield, the Steeldogs head to Yorkshire rivals Hull Pirates tomorrow night, Jason Hewitt’s team no doubt stinging from a pointless weekend which brought one-goal defeats to Raiders IHC and Telford Tigers.

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“Everybody throughout the entire season is going to take points off each other which is fantastic for the league,” said Morgan.

Jason Hewitt faces off during last weekend's 2-1 home defeat to Raiders IHC. Picture courtesy of John Scott.

“I think that in terms of who is going to a top-five team or a bottom-five team won’t really become clearer until late November or early December at the earliest.

“The proof in the pudding will be when everybody has played each other home and away at least once.”

Hull will have a chance to make up for last weekend when they visit Swindon tonight, the Wiltshire side keen to exact some revenge on home ice after losing out 7-6 in overtime in Hull two weeks ago, despite being 6-4 ahead with just over two minutes remaining in regulation.

Leeds Chiefs are not in action until tomorrow, facing their longest journey of the season when they head to Romford-based Raiders (5.15pm).

Player-coach Sam Zajac takes his Leeds Chiefs team down to Raiders IHC. Picture: Chris Stratford.

For player-coach Sam Zajac – whose team are winless after their first five games – the encounter brings the Chiefs up against an unknown quantity in the shape of Sean Easton’s team, who moved up to fourth after following up their 2-1 win in Hull with a 5-4 win at home to Swindon.

“We couldn’t have picked a better time to play them after what they did last weekend!” joked Zajac about the Raiders.

“They are going to be on such a high with two great results which is just testament to the team that Sean has put together.

“There are a lot of guys we’re not familiar with but they seem to be a pretty free-flowing offensive team. They are a very young team, so they’re definitely going to play with a lot of energy.”

“So it should make for an interesting first 10 minutes or so while we both try to work each other out - there will be a feeling out process, but we need to concentrate and worry about what we’re doing, not so much about them.