Elite League preview: Devils face big Steelers test

Cardiff Devils travel to Sheffield Steelers on Saturday aiming to extend their lead at the top of the Elite League.

Devils’ 7-3 victory at home to the Steelers last weekend moved them six points clear of their title rivals and extended their winning sequence to five games.

Defenseman Gleason Fournier has been in impressive form during the run and Player/Coach Andrew Lord (above) is delighted with his recent signing.

He said: “I’m proud of every player and our coaching staff. It’s been a huge team effort and we must keep showing that same togetherness and work ethic.

“Gleason is logging big minutes and plays a great two-way game. He skates the puck beautifully and adds to our puck possession because he makes plays all over the ice.

Ex-NHL forward Ryan Russell has also made a solid start to his Devils career, with a goal and an assist from his first two matches.

Lord added: “Ryan is maybe not up to his game yet, but he played two big matches for us, adds quality minutes and provides great leadership.”

Paul Thompson’s team have had the upper hand on home ice against the Devils, winning both their meetings so far this season, and Lord expects another tough game.

“Steelers had to come in and play our style of game at the Big Blue Tent in Cardiff Bay,” he said. “Now we go to their rink and have to play their game. It’s going to be a major test, but we’ll regroup and be ready to go.”

Coventry Blaze face Belfast Giants on Friday in the first of a back-to-back double header at the SSE Arena.

Blaze have struggled against the Giants this season, recording just one victory from their previous five meetings.

Having conceded six powerplay goals in their last back-to-back series with the Giants at the start of the year, Head Coach Chuck Weber says special teams are going to be key.

“We need to stay out of the box and we need to clean up a number of things on our PK – 0ur powerplay also needs to be better and sharper,” said Weber.

“Mike Radja has had a lot of success against us. He has eight goals and two assists in five games so he is someone we need to be aware of.

“Belfast are a deep and talented team. They have two GB national team players in Colin Shields and Jonathan Boxill on their fourth line.

“We will need to take care of our own end and create more offensively. If we get everyone playing in the same direction and execute then that will help us have some success.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Friday

Belfast Giants v Coventry Blaze

Saturday

Belfast Giants v Coventry Blaze
Braehead Clan v Dundee Stars
Fife Flyers v Edinburgh Capitals
Nottingham Panthers v Manchester Storm
Sheffield Steelers v Cardiff Devils

Sunday

Manchester Storm v Nottingham Panthers
Edinburgh Capitals v Braehead Clan
Cardiff Devils v Fife Flyers
Dundee Stars v Sheffield Steelers

(Image permission: Helen Brabon)

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