ICE HOCKEY: Steelers newcomers face a baptism of fire in new season

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SHEFFIELD Steelers will have to hit the ground running if they are to make an early impact on the Elite League in the new season.

In the fixture list published today, Ryan Finnerty’s squad face a challenging start to the 2012-13 programme.

Three weekends into their programme, they travel to Nottingham Panthers (September 22) before hosting champions Belfast Giants the next evening.

It promises to be a baptism of fire for some of the recruits new to the club, league and country.

The Nottingham fixture, in particular, will be an interesting experience for ex Panthers’ captain and Great Britain defenceman Danny Meyers, who had six seasons there. Before that, Steelers open their League season with home and away games versus Cardiff Devils (September 8 and 9) and then an improved Coventry Blaze side (September 15 and 16.) The first home game against their Nottingham is on September 29 at the Arena.

The key Christmas dates see Sheffield at Panthers on Boxing Day before the return leg on December 27.

The new-look “Conference” system has been set up to pit together Sheffield, Belfast, Coventry and Cardiff, who play each other four times and home and the same away.

The four will also ice in two home, two away, matches against the other Conference sides Hull Stingrays, Dundee Stars, Braehead Clan, Fife Flyers and Edinburgh Capitals, who also face each other eight times during the season.

Steelers’ skipper Jonathan Phillips and his squad host Braehead, who are expected to do well in their own Conference, on October 7, at iceSheffield.

The South Yorkshire side anticipate playing at the smaller rink six times, all against sides from the northern conference.

Sheffield wrap up their league programme against Giants on March 24.

The pre-season games are Coventry, home and away, September 1 and 2.

September

8 Cardiff H Lea 7pm

9 Cardiff A Lea 6pm

15 Coventry H Lea 7pm

16 Coventry A Lea 5.15pm

22 Nottingham A Lea 7pm

23 Belfast H Lea 5pm

26 Hull A CC 7.30pm

29 Nottingham H Lea 7pm

30 Coventry H Lea 5pm

October

6 Cardiff A Lea 7pm

7 Braehead H Lea 6pm (is)*

13 Fife A Lea 7.15pm

14 Belfast H Lea 5pm

19 Cardiff H CC 7.30pm

20 Coventry A Lea 7pm

21 Hull H CC 6.00 pm (is)*

26 Belfast A Lea 7.30pm

27 Belfast A Lea 7pm

3 Coventry H CC 7.30pm

November

3 Dundee A Lea 7pm

4 Nottingham H CC 5pm

17 Nottingham A CC 7pm

18 Fife H Lea 6pm (is)*

21 Dundee H Lea 7.30pm (is)*

24 Braehead A Lea 7pm

25 Edinburgh A Lea 6pm

December

1 Cardiff H Lea 7pm

2 Cardiff A CC 6pm

8 Edinburgh H Lea 7pm (is)*

9 Coventry A CC 7pm

15 Dundee H Lea 7pm

16 Dundee A Lea 6.30pm

22 Hull A Lea 6.30pm

23 Belfast H Lea 5pm

26 Nottingham A Lea 7.30pm

27 Nottingham H Lea TBC

30 Coventry H Lea TBC

January 2013

1 Coventry A Lea 7.45pm

5 Belfast A Lea 7pm

6 Hull A Lea 6pm

12 Fife A Lea 7.15pm

13 Braehead H Lea 5pm

19 Coventry H Lea 7pm

20 Nottingham H Lea 5pm

26 Cardiff H Lea 7pm

27 Edinburgh A Lea 6pm

February

2 Braehead A Lea 7pm

3 Nottingham H Lea 5pm

9 Belfast A Lea 7pm

10 Cardiff A Lea 6pm

16 Fife H Lea 7pm

17 Hull H Lea 5pm

22 Nottingham A Lea 7.30pm

March

2 Edinburgh H Lea 7pm (is)*

9 Nottingham A Lea 7pm

10 Cardiff A Lea 6pm

16 Coventry A Lea 7pm

17 Cardiff H Lea 5pm

23 Hull H Lea 7pm

24 Belfast H Lea 5pm

* Denotes games at iceSheffield