Gerad Adams takes his hat off to Nottingham Panthers - and there has not been many Sheffield Steelers’ coaches done that.
But the team boss can’t hide his admiration for a side that has won five consecutive Challenge Cups.
“It is incredible really, and last year they had to come back from a big first leg deficit (5-2 against Belfast Giants) to win it again.”
Adams’ acclaim only goes so far...he wants to put an end to that run. Tonight Sheffield host the first leg of the Cup semi-final at the Arena. The second leg is on Tuesday.
“Nottingham love that competition for whatever reason but as far as we are concerned it has to come to an end now” he says. “As our biggest rivals, ofcourse it would be great for us to do that. I don’t like to praise them but, yes, they are a good team, well-coached and particularly dangerous because they have had had some problems lately (three straight losses.) They will be ready to go and we will have to be on our best if we are to beat them. It is a 120 minute game and although we will be trying to take a solid lead to their rink, you have to get the job done over two legs.”
Steelers have beaten Panthers twice recently. “Does that make me more comfortable playing them: not really” said the coach.
“But it does give us a mental advantage, an edge. There is definitely a stronger feeling among the players (that they can beat Nottingham) than there was earlier in the year. We are evenly matched and have very similar styles, it will just come down to who is the best on the two nights.”
Dustin Kohn (knee) remains out, as does goalie Frank Doyle, who is still struggling with a hand problem. “We have tried out a few shots on him, and the response wasn’t great, but we’d expected that, given the type of injury. We will see how it goes.”