Crunch time for ‘niggled’ Sheffield Steelers

Mathieu Roy in action for Sheffield Steelers v Fife Flyers
Mathieu Roy in action for Sheffield Steelers v Fife Flyers

Steelers admit they were “niggled” by the fact that Nottingham Panthers won the Challenge Cup on Sheffield Arena ice last Sunday,

And that is yet another incentive as the champions prepare to take on the cup winners at the NIC on Saturday - a four-pointer in terms of the pursuit of the league title.

Cup winning Panthers, on Sheffield ice

Cup winning Panthers, on Sheffield ice

Steelers boss Paul Thompson admitted: “I don’t like the fact they won it in our building and nor did some of our players who went to watch it.

“That will bring in some extra motivation, there’s no doubt about that. We cannot control where they play the Challenge Cup final, but we can use the fact that it annoyed us to our advantage.”

There is little between the teams involved in the title run-in, and there could be plenty of unforeseen developments as the top five battle it out.

“At this stage of the season it is not always how good you are, it is how you execute - both in offence and defence” said the coach, who hopes his old team Coventry Blaze can do him a favour tomorrow night and beat Nottingham, at home.

Coventry have beaten Panthers three times out of four at the Skydome, so far.

“It will be a hard battle for both sides on Wednesday, Coventry have done to Nottingham what they have done to us this year.”

Thompson reckons Rob Dowd, back from a knee injury and playing in a leg brace, is around “80 per cent fit” but commended the club’s medical team and the player himself for his return at such a critical stage of the season.

READ MORE: Click here for all the latest news from the ice hockey scene