Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers is ‘fun’ derby

Sheffield Steelers’ form may be a little unpredictable recently, but that won’t stop the players relishing the prospect of hosting their biggest rivals on Sunday.

Home defenceman Jace Coyle is still a relative novice in terms of clashes between the two Elite League protagonists.

Jace Coyle in action against Nottingham Panthers last month

Jace Coyle in action against Nottingham Panthers last month

But he says the matches compare favourably with other ‘derby’ style matches he’s been involved in during his north American career.

“So far it’s been fun; it’s been a really incredible experience in both our rink and theirs” the Canadian said.

“As a group we all look forward to it, it brings out the best in us, for the most part. We had a tough game in the last one in Nottingham, (7-4 defeat) but we are looking to correct that.”

He was referring to the series of turnovers which, generally, has damaged Sheffield’s title chances, particularly on the road.

Who is responsible for the sometimes unforced errors? “It is a five man group on the ice, we’ve had a lot of breakdowns” he said.

“We weren’t direct enough getting the puck out of our end, and it cost us. We had mental lapses and when you give up four goals in 10 minutes it’s tough.”

Coyle will be playing in front of stand-in goalie Marek Pinc in Sunday’s game, and 24 hours earlier up in Glasgow against Braehead Clan.

He said it was important to be defensively sound in front of a goalie still settling into a new league and team - he doesn’t want to see the blue line corps giving up 30 shots in a game.

Coyle admits the team was missing hard-working forward Colton Fretter, who is out after a sports-hernia op.

“He is huge for us. He is a guy with a lot of poise on the puck, he controls our power play and he has a lot of leadership and experience.

“It will be huge to get him back” he said adding that players had to step up and fill his role while he is absent.

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