Sheffield Steelers target repeat show from trip to Elite League leaders Guildford Flames
Tonight’s visitors to the Utilita Arena are long-time arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers. It is the fourth meeting of the season between the two – all in the Challenge Cup – and we are not even out of October.
Whether the elongated group format of the Challenge Cup needs revising – or maybe the competition being ditched altogether in favour of a longer play-off season – there will still be the usual bragging rights at stake when the teams stride out.
The Steelers were involved in Cup action last weekend, not that it did their position in the regular season league standings any harm at all.
They head down to Surrey tomorrow still in second place, six points adrift of current leaders Flames with two games in hand.
It is a journey they have enjoyed making this season already this season, bouncing back from an opening night defeat at home to Cardiff Devils by winning 4-1 at The Spectrum the following night.
There is a hint of congestion bubbling underneath the Flames currently, with Cardiff level on points with the Steelers and Coventry Blaze just one point further back in fourth.
Having now finished with their Champions League campaign, the Belfast Giants are also back to the main bread and butter and closing in on the top four, now sitting our points off Coventry with a handful of games in hand on all of their rivals.
Either way, Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips knows his team cannot afford to lose to one of their main title rivals, knowing a second win in Guildfor d is vital to keep the South Yorkshire team firmly in the mix.
"Victory will keep us in the hunt at the top of the league after playing cup games back to back to back,” said Phillips.
The loss of David Phillips through suspension for the weekend is a blow for the Steelers, although one offset by the return of fellow defenceman Sebastien Piche, back in the fold having returned home for a few days following the birth of his daughter.