Layne Ulmer, Gleason Fournier and Matt Pope celebrate Devils' opening goal against Glasgow Clan. Pic: Dave Williams.

Steeler Tom Says ‘Devils Are Best Team In Elite League’

Tom Barrasso, the Sheffield Steelers coach who brings his team to Cardiff Bay on Sunday, says Cardiff Devils are ‘the best team in Elite League’.

American Barrasso says: Devils are an extremely good team. In my opinion, they are the best in Elite League, in my opinion,” said the team boss.

“Put them in a seven-game series, they beat everybody in the League.”

Steelers play at the Viola Arena on Sunday, almost 24 hours after Devils take on Coventry Blaze at their Skydome Arena.

Head coach Andrew Lord and his Cardiff players are locked level on points with Belfast Giants in a chase for the League title heading into the final month of the 2018-19 regular season.

Steelers can have a big say in who wins the League championship. Barrasso’s boys face Belfast at home on Saturday before coming to South Wales.

They also play both Devils and Giants again later in March.

Sheffield’s Robert Dowd says: “Cardiff have won the League in the last couple of years and are a strong team, but we embrace battles like that and look forward to them.

“It is a great weekend for us. We look forward to dates like that.”  

Cardiff have had the better of Sheffield this season, beating them in all four previous meetings, 6-2, 7-1, 3-2 and 7-3.

“We played a really good 30 minutes last time down in Cardiff,” says Barrasso. “We skated with them, competed with them, put pucks deep and did all the hard things required to beat a highly skilled team. Then we ran out of gas.

“On Sunday we have to stay focused on the idea that we have to be fresh, ready and be committed to doing the good things we do which is defend hard with five men, put pucks behind their defence, be a little bit physical to get the puck back and spend as much time in the offensive zone as possible.”

Before that Devils test at the Viola, Steelers entertain Belfast Giants at home, who they defeated 4-2 in their last meeting at Sheffield Arena.

It’s fitting that 53-year-old Barrasso brings his team to the Viola Arena on NHL Appreciation Day.

The former goaltender made 777 appearances in the NHL, playing for Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and St Louis Blues.

Devils managing director Todd Kelman says: “We know you love Devils, but this Sunday we want to encourage everybody to wear their favourite NHL team shirt – for one game only.

“We are celebrating our love of the best league in the world with a special NHL DAY at the Viola Arena when the Sheffield Steelers come to town on Sunday.” 

ELITE ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE 2018/19

TEAM GP W L OTL PTS PCT GF GA PIM STREAK
Belfast Giants 50 37 11 2 76 .760 194 123 629 3-0
Cardiff Devils 49 35 8 6 76 .776 196 130 561 1-0
Glasgow Clan 51 29 18 4 62 .608 183 156 648 0-3
Nottingham Panthers 52 25 18 9 59 .567 159 163 862 1-0
Guildford Flames 51 26 20 5 57 .559 166 155 622 5-0
Fife Flyers 48 24 19 5 53 .552 155 162 682 0-1
Sheffield Steelers 52 25 24 3 53 .510 156 179 752 0-1
Manchester Storm 51 22 24 5 49 .480 150 176 1067 1-0
Coventry Blaze 48 21 20 7 49 .510 172 187 636 0-2
Dundee Stars 49 18 19 12 48 .490 138 167 455 0-2
Milton Keynes Lightning 49 13 32 4 30 .306 120 191 851 1-0

Cardiff Devils remaining 11 Elite League fixtures

Five home, six away

March

Saturday 2 v Coventry Blaze (away, 7pm)

Sunday 3 v Sheffield Steelers (home, 4pm) – this game does not count on season tickets

Thursday 7 v Fife Flyers (away, 7.30pm)

Friday 8 v Guildford Flames (home, 7.30pm)

Saturday 16 v Sheffield Steelers (away, 7pm)

Sunday 17 v Glasgow Clan (home, 6pm)

Wednesday 20 v Glasgow Clan (away, 7.30pm)

Saturday 23 v Manchester Storm (home, 7pm)

Sunday 24 v Dundee Stars (away, 5pm)

Saturday 30 v MK Lightning (home, 7pm)

Sunday 31 v Coventry Blaze (away, 5.15pm)

Remaining fixtures for Belfast Giants

10 fixtures left, seven home, three away

March 

Saturday 2 v Sheffield Steelers (away, 7pm)

Sunday 3 v Manchester Storm (home, 4pm)

Friday 8 v Glasgow Clan (home, 7pm)

Friday 15 v Coventry Blaze (home, 7pm)

Friday 15 v Coventry Blaze (home, 7pm)

Friday 22 v Manchester Storm (away, 7pm)

Sunday 24 v Sheffield Steelers (home, 4pm)

Wednesday 27 v Coventry Blaze (away, 7.30pm)

Friday 29 v Fife Flyers (home, 7pm)

Saturday 30 v Dundee Stars (home, 7pm)

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