Spring Cup Preview: Top two set for head to head

Telford Tigers and Sheffield Steeldogs picked up high scores last week - now they go head to head in the Spring Cup (PHOTOS: Steve Brodie & Podium Prints)

There are three weekends left to go and the Spring Cup has become something of a two-horse in the last couple of weeks as Telford Tigers and Sheffield Steeldogs break away from the rest.

This weekend, we should be a step closer to knowing who will win the tournament as both sides go head to head in a double header where something has to give.

The two teams have been imperious in the competition so far, winning all their games and if one of them can do the double and take all four points, it would be hard to see past them winning the Spring Cup.

Sheffield Steeldogs have been strong in the offensive lines, putting away 40 goals in their six games so far, which is an impressive stat, made even more stunning with an average of 6.67 goals per game.

The goals have been shared between 10 players, which shows the depth coach Greg Wood has at his disposal and itโ€™s hard to ignore Liam Kirkโ€™s contribution with 12, something that should excite the Steelers fans when the NHL drafted star returns for the Elite Series.

The manner of their victories are hard to ignore as they racked up victory after victory.ย  Bear in mind, the Steeldogs were the unofficial Streaming Series winners back in November with three wins from four games.

The goals are flying in and Telford will have to be at their best to stop them if they are to go on and win the competition as well.

Tom Watkinsโ€™ side have also been impressive in picking up maximum points from all their games and it looks like a continuation of the team that won the NIHL National Cup and League prior to lockdown.

The players theyโ€™ve brought in have integrated well into the team and thereโ€™s no doubt having Robert Lachowicz, Ross Venus and Kieran Brown have been a huge plus.

We canโ€™t not mention the contributions of experienced campaigners Scott McKenzie and Jason Silverthorn, still racking up the points, with McKenzie in particular nabbing 3+2 in the games with Raiders last week.

It has the makings of a fascinating weekend for both teams.ย  One victor in the two games could make it difficult for the other, a points split over the meetings keeps the interest going a bit longer.

ELSEWHERE

Bees and Raiders meet again a week after coming together in Romford and this time, itโ€™s the Bees who have the one night, while Raiders go on for a full three in three weekend.

Ivan Antonovโ€™s hat-trick in the 5-4 last Friday was the latest impressive display for Doug Sheppardโ€™s side that perhaps helped Danny Stewart select him for Coventry Blaze in the Elite Series.

Raiders, however, are keen to get a win on the board and may have revenge on their mind when they head to Slough for this one.

They’ve added Ed Knaggs to the side to shore up their defence and no doubt, Sean Easton will be keen to lean on his experience as they look to keep things tight against an offensively dangerous team against Swindon Wildcats, who they play on Saturday and Sunday.

For Aaron Nellโ€™s side, it gives them a much needed chance to move past the two heavy losses inflicted on them by Telford Tigers last week.

Wildcatsโ€™ hopes of being in the conversation for the Spring Cup took a considerable dent, but wins over Raiders and one loss each between the top two when they meet could get them back in, but it would look a tall order.

Thereโ€™s still a lot to play for, but as the games start to run out, the picture starts to become clearer and clearer.ย  This weekend could very well answer those questions.

FIXTURES (Click on the link for streaming details)

FRIDAY:

Bees vs Raiders (7.45pm)

SATURDAY:

Telford Tigers vs Sheffield Steeldogs (3pm)

Swindon Wildcats vs Raiders (6.30pm)

SUNDAY:

Raiders vs Swindon Wildcats (3pm)

Sheffield Steeldogs vs Telford Tigers (5pm)

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