Why Sheffield Steelers have to overcome Nottingham Panthers

Zack Fitzgerald lays down the law against Panthers
Zack Fitzgerald lays down the law against Panthers
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Eleven months ago, Nottingham Panthers inflicted a bloody nose on the Sheffield Steelers.

They pummelled Paul Thompson’s side 8-0 at iceSheffield in the first leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final, before going on to win 10-0 on aggregate.

Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 26/12/16

Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 26/12/16

Coach Thompson, that night, said Panthers had “embarrassed and humiliated” his side.

It was a vicious blow, but one Sheffield recovered from - they went on to win the Elite League title, the most coveted of all domestic honours.

Fast forward to tonight and the pair meet, again at the semi-final stage of the same Cup competition.

The first leg is at the NIC - and Steelers will want a decent result to take back home and ultimately gain redemption for last year’s ignominy.

Thompson said: “Last year was so terrible, we have to get it right this time.

“We have played a lot of hockey but we will be rested and ready for Wednesday night.

“We are only two games from the final, but we know this will be tough and it seems to be Nottingham’s favourite competition.

“We need to play a good road performance; we can’t go there ‘gung ho,’ we have to be smart and come away with a win.”

Steelers will be buoyed by the fact they are more than capable of winning away in big games - they were comfortably the better side in Sunday’s 4-3 victory over table-topping Cardiff Devils.

And that’s a fact that is not lost on Nottingham coach Corey Neilson who says: “We had better be at our best because Sheffield are an awful good team.”

*Steelers have had mixed results against Nottingham so far this season.

While they hammered them 8-1 in November, partial revenge for the year before, Panthers ruined Steelers’ fans Christmas with two 3-2 wins, home and away.

Nottingham have lost their last three games in the Elite League though...and will be desperate to put on a show for their fans at the NIC.

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