Sheffield Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips admits his team can be called underdogs when they take on Cardiff Devils in this weekend’s play-off quarter finals.
Both sides have contested the last two finals and come together on the back of contrasting disappointments from the regular season just finished.
But Phillips is expecting another full-blooded affair with the Devils, keen to get back on track after their title heartache last week.
“I think, if you look at how the league has gone from the outside, you can definitely say we’re underdogs, second versus seventh and all that,” he said.
“But we’re at a stage where we’ll happily take that and we know how our consistency has been this year, but it’s a perfect chance for us to put that right.
“I wouldn’t say there’s ever a good time to play Cardiff, with the experience in that team. They know how to win. Losing out on the title by the smallest of margins, they are going to be ready.
“They’ve shown what they’re all about in the last few years and we’re just as hungry for different reasons and it’s definitely a match we’re looking forward to.
Devils are the holders going into the weekend after Andrew Lord’s side beat Steelers 3-1 in the final last April.
But after a season of inconsistency and false dawns in their form, Phillips says the team have gone back to the beginning in a quest to bring the trophy they won two years ago back.
He added: “It’s day one of a new campaign for us and we can finally put the inconsistency of the league to bed. It’s a chance to start afresh and something we think we can do.
“Just for ourselves, if we can get that confidence we’ve shown in the last few weeks and we can play well, we can do it. We’ve shown we can play well against top teams this year.
“We know how to prepare for these games. When the league was going on we were kind of struggling playing back to back and the disappointment of a few losses and the expectation on us, especially for such a new team, was quite daunting at times.
“But I think we’ve come that and I’m looking forward to us putting something together this weekend in these two games.
“When it comes to this time of year, it’s about heart and desire and you’re going to see two teams with that in abundance.”