Sheffield Steelers at full strength for Belfast Giants double-header
Steelers' away form will be put to the test this weekend, as the club tries to put an end to a mixed run of results on the road.
Sheffield travel to second place Belfast Giants for back-to-back games, aiming to reduce their lead over them to two points.
To do that, they will have to show some of the consistency that has eluded them in the last six away trips.
At the SSE Arena on December 10, Giants overtook Steelers to claim second place with goals from ex-Sheffield skaters Colin Shields and Mike Forney.
In the next five away trips, Paul Thompson’s men have won only twice, with league leaders Cardiff Devils taking maximum points off them. Coach Paul Thompson said: “You have to look at who we played and how we played in those four defeats, three of which were tied games going into the third periods.
“But yes, the results themselves were a concern and that’s why I’m pleased with the way our players bounced back from the Christmas losses against Nottingham and played so well against Manchester. I’m always confident with this team - we can do well in Belfast.”
Sheffield will have a full bench for the first time for weeks. Andreas Valdix’s double wrist fracture is mended, Yared Hagos’ two facial wounds are on the mend and Colton Fretter, who was hit by a Davey Phillips slapshot in the home game against Manchester and then hurt in the same upper body spot by a boarding, is also back.
They face a side which lost only once in 12 December games.
But Steelers coach believes there is currently a confidence about the side which augurs well for the fixtures.
His team flies out on Saturday morning ahead of the evening clash.
n Nottingham Panthers’ Jason Williams has been named EIHL ‘Player of the Break’, after his goals ruined Steelers’ fans Christmas. Williams scored four goals and seven points for the club in just five games during the festive period.
The former NHL forward who won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2002, made his Elite League debut on Boxing Day against Sheffield, scoring the game winning goal in a 3-2 victory for the Panthers against their arch rivals.
He repeated the feat 24-hours later, also picking up an assist in another 3-2 win against the Steelers, at the National Ice Centre.