Sheffield Steelers injury-free for big Swedish ice hockey challenge

Markus Nilsson - with T-shirts for his Swedish friends and family
Markus Nilsson - with T-shirts for his Swedish friends and family
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Sheffield Steelers’ coach Paul Thompson says he has a settled and injury-free side ready for Champions Hockey League battle tomorrow night.

The Elite League team face a daunting task at HV71 Jönköping in Sweden, but Thommo said the camp was in good shape.

“There were no injuries, the players were all ok (after weekend wins over Aalborg.) We will be keeping the same lines together.”

Thompson watched HV71 for the first time yesterday morning, describing them as “big, strong and fast as expected.”

New Steelers’ centre Andreas Valdix has played at the Kinnarps Arena before and is also expecting a tough night.

“I’ve never played an easy game here” the Swede said.

“HV71 will come out hard and fast as they try and impress their fans.”

The centre added: “For us it’s about staying smart, staying five on five. Chances will come our way but we have to be patient.”

Captain Jonathan Phillips believes the experience Steelers gained this time last year “will hold us well going into these two away games (HV71 then Salzburg.)

“There are 12 members of this team that played in the CHL 12 months ago – the new players are all experienced, this won’t faze them.

“We come here respectful of the opposition but not frightened of them. If we have fear then we have no chance. We will be ready, we know we have to be smart and stay concentrated for the full 60 minutes.

“There will be large parts of the night we won’t have the puck. We can’t go chasing, we have to stay disciplined.

“I like the four blocks we have, they all bring speed and experience.

“The Swedish guys (Steelers) are all happy to be home – I think Markus Nilsson has 19 family and friends coming over – he has bought them all Steelers t-shirts!”

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