THERE is a passion-fuelled derby to take place on Sunday in Sheffield - and it doesn’t involve a football bouncing around in the middle of it.
Steelers host Nottingham Panthers for the first time this season. And while the two might not be as geographically close as Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday, the game has always had the intensity and partisan flavour of a local bragging-right decider.
The Bramall Lane soccer spectacle starts at high noon, while the ice tussle faces off five hours later...plenty of time for followers of both sports to see the action at separate venues.
Steelers’ owner Tony Smith thinks the wearing off replica football jerseys at the Arena will be represent rare harmony in the Steel City, whatever the result at the Lane. “It’s unusual to have two derbies on one city on one day, but that’s what’s effectively happening on Sunday” he said.
“Football passions are deeply embedded and I’d love to see both sides represented in the friendly surrounds of Sheffield Arena.
“It would say something about this City of Sport of ours that people can wear their football shirts with pride at a hockey match” added Smith.
“Football derbies are one thing, but people who haven’t been to a Steelers v Panthers game would be surprised at the level of passion generated. It’s pretty hot stuff.”
Meanwhile, Smith revealed that player coach Ryan Finnerty unloaded some of his frustrations on his own players when they tied with Coventry Blaze last Saturday. “He really had his ten pence worth” said the owner.
“The suggestion seemed to be that some guys’ work rates wasn’t where it was supposed to be. He felt the commitment wasn’t all there. It wasn’t good enough and they responded by winning at Cardiff Devils.”
Hull’s ex-Steeler Derek Campbell’s sucker punch against Belfast has merited an automatic three-match ban. The League will decide if any further action will be taken .
In the Cardiff v Steelers match, Chris Frank (Devils) received a 5+game misconduct (slashing) and Rod Sarich (Steelers) a 2+2+10-minute misconduct (attempted butt ending.)