Sheffield test holds no fears for me, says Hull Stingrays' Tom Squires
HULL Stingrays' Tom Squires says he feels no extra pressure when he's playing against his former club Sheffield Steelers on their home ice.
The 21-year-old forward cut his teeth in South Yorkshire, but left in the summer to join English Premier League Sheffield Steeldogs.
It was a move which lasted only a few weeks before he was snapped up by Stingrays coach Sylvain Cloutier.
The Steelers' PR machine immediately cranked into action to vindicate their summer decision to offer Squires the chance of a two-way deal with Telford Tigers.
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The idea was he would play for the EPL Tigers as his first-claim club, and the Steelers when Telford did not have a game – to help him grow as a player and person.
But Squires remains cool on the prospect of playing at his former home.
"I'm looking forward to it," he said.
"It's always good to play in their arena, it's one of the nicest rinks.
"It's nice going back there and it's a big game for us in terms of the standings.
"I don't feel there's extra pressure on me.
"I think you can put too much pressure on yourself and you start squeezing your stick and struggle so there's no point.
"I'll play as well as I can and everything else will take care of itself."
Squires is under no illusions about the size of the task against the big-budget Steelers.
Stingrays are bottom of the table with just 31 points from their 40 games.
In contrast, the Steelers still harbour hopes of collecting the Elite League title, currently in third place with 12 games remaining. Stingrays have yet to collect a point in four attempts this season, home or away.
In fact, not since pulling off the shock of the season to book their place in the 2011-12 play-offs at Sheffield's expense have Stingrays emerged victorious from a tussle.
"It's a big game," agreed Squires.
"But we can go in there with a lot of confidence as all our games with them this season have been tight."
First, though, there remains the small matter of Cardiff Devils at Hull Arena tonight.
Having lost in midweek to Braehead to miss an opportunity to move within reach of the play-off places, tonight's clash assumes even more significance.
Stingrays do at least have home advantage and are safe in the knowledge they have wrestled three wins out of four games against their Welsh visitors, while the fourth went to overtime.
"We've done well against Cardiff this season, so there's no reason why we can't do it again," added Squires.
"We are not going into this weekend thinking anything we get is a bonus because it's Cardiff and Sheffield.
"We are going in to win both games, not thinking we'll be 'lucky' to get a point."