Nottingham Panthers new boss plays to his new audience by “hating” Sheffield Steelers already

Rich Chernomaz - spikey character
Rich Chernomaz - spikey character

Nottingham Panthers’ new coach has implied he already hates Sheffield Steelers - before he has even coached against them!

The one-time NHL winger Rich Chernomaz will run Panthers’ bench for their first serious match of the season, against Paul Thompson’s men on Saturday.

The replacement for Corey Neilson told Panthers’ in-house media that he was familiar with derby-style pressure from his time in Germany, with Frankfurt.

He said the Challenge Cup game would come with “a lot of emotion” but said his team must keep their own feelings in check and play the way they had during their six-match unbeaten pre-season run.

The Canadian was glad Panthers’ six-game programme was over so he could concentrate on Steelers - he was going into the game with a good feeling.

“Out of all the colours that there are to chose from the one I hate the most is orange” said the former Canadian international, who will mark his 55th birthday on the day of the Sheffield encounter.

*Steelers will see on Saturday if their safety-first approach to the new season has paid off.

Thompson, opted for fewer pre-season games than previously and gave the team a weekend off while Elite League competitors were playing.

Sheffield had four games against Swedish sides Leksands and Timra, winning one, losing three. They picked up more than their fair-share of injuries and, as it turns out, that mid-camp break may have been just what the team-doctor ordered.

Panthers had a different preparation.

On the night Steelers were winning their game with Leksands, Panthers were drawing 5-5 at home to Elite League champions Cardiff Devils.

The following night Chernomaz guided Panthers to a 6-3 win Wales, thus winning the Aladdin Cup.

It was a positive start to camp - and Nottingham never looked back.

The following weekend they beat German side Dresdner Eislowen 7-5 and then Fischtown Pinguins 2-1.

They varied the approach by playing and beating Norwegian club Stavanger Oilers 5-3 last Saturday and then pipped Budapest of Hungary 4-2 on Sunday.

They were undefeated across their full programme.

Friendlies are not always an accurate barometer - and we will have a better idea about both teams when they collide on Saturday.

RESULTS

Sunday 26th August

Belfast Giants 5 Manitoba Bisons (Canada) 4

Coventry Blaze 5 Cardiff Devils 4

Glasgow Clan 2 Stavanger Oilers (Norway) 1

Fife Flyers 2 Odense Bulldogs (Denmark) 1

Manchester Storm 7 Aalborg Pirates (Denmark) 1

Nottingham Panthers 4 MAC Budapest (Hungary) 2