Sheffield Steelers face “great challenge” against Cardiff Devils on Sunday at the Arena

Sheffield Steelers’ boss Paul Thompson has spelled out his admiration for Elite League champions Cardiff Devils, who visit the Arena on Sunday, for the first time this season.

The coach agreed the Welsh were the team all others in the Elite division should measure themselves against.

Cardiff Devils v Sheffield Steelers scrum

Cardiff Devils v Sheffield Steelers scrum

He said Devils had played well in the Champions Hockey League against two of the top teams in Europe, Red Bull Salzburg and SC Bern.

They started their League campaign last weekend, with maximum points, wins over Nottingham Panthers (3-2) and Milton Keynes Lightning (9-1.)

"I don't think the people they have replaced with are of a lower level than what they had previously” said Thompson.

"So they have to be the yard-stick, it will be a great challenge for us."

Thompson recognises recent home defeats at the Arena cannot continue, no matter how many new faces there are in the locker room

"No, I think you have to look at the performance first and foremost - I think we dominated the games but we all know what the reasons are (goal-scoring) and that's got to be addressed."

On Saturday , before Steelers’ match at Manchester, Storm will retire the number 22 shirt in memory of those who died in a bomb attack in the city on May 22.