PAST success against Sheffield Steeldogs counts for nothing in the play-offs, said Swindon Wildcats head coach Aaron Nell ahead of the pair’s National Ice Hockey League quarter-final clash this weekend.

The Wildcats and Steeldogs will battle it out over two legs to reach finals weekend in Coventry later this month, with Swindon hosting second on Saturday night after Good Friday’s opener in south Yorkshire.

Nell’s men won four of the six meetings so far this term, and they will have to win at least one more game this weekend or their season will be finished early.

The cats’ player-coach believes his side have the capability to get the job done but must perform somewhere near their best in order to advance.

Nell said: “It’s win or go home now. We’ve known for about three months we’d be playing Sheffield in the play-offs. We’re really looking forward to the game, and I think we’re ready to go.

“You have to believe you can win it. If you don’t, you might as well not even start. Do we believe we can win? Yes. Will it be tough? Absolutely.

“Quite often, the toughest hurdle is getting through the quarter-finals. Sheffield won it last year and they’re one of the favourites this year, so it’s going to be a really tough weekend.

“But we’re looking forward to it, and if we play at our highest level then we’ve got a chance.”

Nell knows how big the challenge which faces his team is, despite Sheffield finishing just a single place ahead of Swindon in the regular campaign.

The Wildcats’ boss believes the Steeldogs are a dark horse to win the competition, therefore progression would greatly enhance Swindon’s chances too.

Nell said: “They’re a big challenge. They’ve got the experience of doing it before. They’re very consistent, and their top line – on their day – is probably the best top line in the league.

“We’ve got to be aware of them, and there’s a reason why they won it last year. Their team has arguably improved from last season, and they could have finished higher if not for the number of injuries they had. So it’s going to be a really tough challenge for us.

“We have had a bit of success against them this season, but come play-off time that doesn’t count for anything. It’s all about seeing who is the best team over two legs.”