STEELERS must stake a claim for temporary ownership of Nottingham Panthers’s centre ice tomorrow evening.
Injured Sheffield forward Mike Ramsay believes the Elite division game will be won and lost in the neutral zone, a territory Panthers dominated in, during their last two meetings with Steelers.
Ramsay’s team-mates lost twice (3-0 and 4-2) to Panthers in October, in the Challenge Cup. Tomorrow is league action and the winger wants to watch his side play a more intelligent game.
“Nottingham play a good system in the neutral zone. If you are going against them offensively and everyone is spread out too much - then you trying to make long passses - they play their trap well and pick the passes off.
“We have all got to go up together and back together and support each other all the way up the ice.
“If you don’t do that it makes it really hard on yourself. You just start chasing the puck. Against a team like that you have to have good puck possession, particularly in the neutral zone, or they will pick you apart.”
Ramsay said the first year members of the team had quickly come to recognise the importance to fans of the Panthers v Steelers rivalry.
“We know what is all about know. They are a really good team. But we didn’t play our best against them and we have more to prove against them and for our fans.
“I don’t think we tested their defensive side enough. We definitely have to play better than those last two games and I think we can do it.
“As a player you never want to be outworked or have the game taken to you.”
Up front, Nottingham have a lot of skilled forwards, says Ramsay, who is recovering from a broken finger. Scot Champagne is a major danger, he has nine goals and 23 assists (32 pts) from 22 games.
“Brandon Benedict also works really hard lot of skill, David Beauregard can score goals consistently. But we have to give them problems, not the other way round.”
Steelers host Hull Stingrays in the Challenge Cup on Sunday at iceSheffield (6pm.)