Sheffield Steelers rely on championship-winning mentality

Sheffield Steelers are summoning up the spirit of their 2014-15 season as they pledge a last ditch team-effort to try and retain their Elite League title.

Coach Paul Thompson challenged his team in the dressing room minutes after their 5-1 collapse at Coventry Blaze on Sunday. And they went on to win at Belfast Giants, suggesting their championship ambitions are not dead yet.

“I said to the team after that defeat they were in the same position last year and went on to win - nobody is throwing the towel in,” said the coach.

“I give no excuses for the losses we’ve had. We cannot blame everybody else, we have had to look in the mirror and say: I need to do my job.”

Winger Jason Hewitt is equally adamant that Steelers can compete for the season’s main prize.

Asked if winning the League was becoming a pipe dream, he replied: “Are you kidding me? It’s not over, not in our minds, anyway.

“Last year, we lost what was it six or seven straight and everyone wrote us off – we won it on the last day of the season. This team doesn’t give in. We would die trying and give it everything we have.

“We were all down after last weekend but we bounced back. We’ve all played a lot of hockey (13 games) in January and maybe its all caught up on us.

“But we have showed we are ready to go again. Don’t write us off, it isn’t over,” said the veteran.

Saturday night sees Steelers take on Belfast, a team they have walked through this season, with six wins out of seven against them so far.

On two occasions, Steelers have put six past them (6-1, 2-1, 1-4, 3-1, 6-2, 3-1, 2-1.)

The Giants have lost their last three games, but have shown many times that they can be a class act.

They are desperate to improve on their fifth place in the division and keen on revenge after losing 2-1 to Sheffield at home on Tuesday.

The skipper Adam Keefe claimed the South Yorkshire outfit was the “weakest Sheffield team you will see...they seemed down a few bodies and tired.” Despite that they could not find a second goal.

“We are in a big rut right now and the only way out is we have got to work and that is going to be the theme. We are going to have to go into a tough building to win in Sheffield and scratch and claw and get a dirty road win.”

On Sunday Sheffield go on a revenge mission at Coventry, who celebrated back to back victories over them last weekend, de-stablising the momentum of the side so much that a minority of Steelers fans turned on the coach, on social media.

That appears to have subsided since the injury-hit squad carved out the midweek win in Belfast.