ICE HOCKEY: Devils on title tightrope

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THE CARDIFF Devils coach, Paul Heavey, yesterday urged his side to stay focused after losing their way during Sunday's Challenge Cup semi- final first leg at home to Nottingham Panthers.

Devils must raise their spirits for four vital Sekonda Superleague games in the space of the next six days following their surprise 3-2 defeat by Nottingham at the IceHouse.

Cardiff are eight points behind the leaders, Manchester Storm, with one game in hand, but realise that defeats at Ayr Scottish Eagles today and Sheffield Steelers tomorrow may end their title chances.

Heavey said: "I thought we were a bit unlucky to lose against Nottingham. Both sides played well and I suppose it could have gone either way. But we're not too upset because we've got the second leg to put things right.

"We now have to get our minds on to the next job, which is four massive games in just six days. All four will be tough and we just have to focus on them one at a time. Ayr and Sheffield in successive nights will be very tight games. Both have good home records, with Sheffield playing particularly well as their 5-0 win over Manchester in the Challenge Cup proved."

Storm will also be looking to recover themselves after that mauling by the Steelers as they face games at Ayr tomorrow and Nottingham on Thursday.

Cardiff travel to Bracknell Bees on Saturday before a potential title decider at home to Storm on Sunday.