This is the weekend of underdogs: with sports fans giving Sheffield Steelers the same chance of beating Red Bull Salzburg as Kell Brook has of KO’ing Gennady Golovkin.
The scale of difference between Steelers and Red Bull is never more obvious than on the balance sheet.
“If you took the salaries of two of their players, maybe a top of the range and a middle range earner, they’d be banking as much as our total
player budget” says Sheffield coach Paul Thompson.
“That’s what you get when your club is owned by the fifth richest man in the world...NHL-standard wages.
“They have fantastic high-end players who work hard and are in great condition.
“But it still gripes with me that we lost so heavily to them at their rink (8-1, August 20.)
“That was a scoreline that wasn’t warranted if you look at where our club is now. We capitulated, mainly through fatigue and frustration, and Red Bull ran the score up in the (0-4) last period.
“But we have the chance to make amends - and 8-0? Yes, miracles do happen!”
Steelers will have to muzzle the offensive might of American right winger Bill Thomas, who ran riot against them in the first leg.
“I was sick of seeing him on the scoreboard” said Thompson of the 87-game NHLer.
“But we will be at full strength, they will have the travelling to do and we want to get at them early.
“We have players who are wanting to do well and win us this game.”
Defenceman Anders Franzon will be back on the Steelers blue line after recovering from back spasms.
“He is a smooth and uncompromising player who is a really intelligent thinker - it will be good to have him back” said the coach.
Meanwhile Thompson says the ice quality at Sheffield Arena has now improved.
*Reigning Elite League play-off champions Nottingham Panthers started the new campaign with a 3-1 victory over Dundee Stars in Scotland.
The Panthers won their record fifth title back in April by defeating Coventry Blaze at the National Ice Centre and they began the new season on a winning note thanks to two goals from David Clarke and a further effort from Jeff Dimmen.
Dundee pulled one back through Joey Sides in the second period but were unable to stage a fightback in a scoreless third period.