Painful trip for Steelers’ fans

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SEVERAL hundred Steelers fans will have to sit through the ordeal of watching arch rivals Nottingham Panthers win the Play Offs this weekend, fears Sheffield defenceman Matt Stephenson.

The supporters paid good money hoping to watch their own team in the Play Off semi tomorrow, but an upset against Hull Stingrays means the East Yorkshire outfit have taken their place.

Steelers fans hope Panthers will lose in their own rink: but that’s not likely to happen, predicts Stephenson.

“Nottingham will be hard to beat in their own barn where they play pretty good hockey,” he said. “I think they will add to the Challenge cup they got. They’ve been pretty successful against (champions) Belfast Giants and have an advantage playing in their own rink.”

Stephenson hopes Steelers, who ended the campaign empty-handed, will not do so again next term. “The coach (Ryan Finnerty) will have a slightly bigger budget next year and changes will be made. He’ll keep the foundation blocks, people like Jeff Legue, Rod Sarich, John DeCaro and Mark Thomas but there will be new guys.”

On the debate of Steelers’ sacking of Colt King on March 27, Stephenson agreed that the timing had surprised the squad. “It was a shock but it was Finner’s decision, it’s his team and if there is something he doesn’t like it’s his call. It’s his neck on the line, not ours.”

Asked about rumours that King had allegedly been a negative influence on others, Stephenson said: “I wasn’t aware of any problems.”