Around 8,000 Sheffield Steelers fans heading back to the Arena

Steelers' fans will be returning in huge numbers to Sheffield Arena on Sunday.
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The home Elite League match against Coventry Blaze will be the first there since the tragedy of October 28, when Nottingham Panthers' American star Adam Johnson lost his life in a freak collision on the pad.

Many members of the Orange Army have understandably struggled with the trauma attached to witnessing such an event.

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And parents have had to ask themselves whether they are ready to return to the venue.

Steelers are back Steelers are back
Steelers are back

But by Friday morning it became clear that more than 7,800 people had bought tickets for the Blaze match, which will also include tributes to Adam and the annual Remembrance Day commemoration.

The average league attendance at the Arena this season has been 6,666 and 8,843 in the Challenge Cup, so sales appear to be on course.

Saturday's Cup at Manchester Storm is a dead rubber game, following Panthers' decision to withdraw from the competition.

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It may be an opportunity for coach Aaron Fox to give game time to Tony Morrone or Angus Laing in goal and maybe provide Cole Shudra with another chance to show his versatility on the back-end.

Cole ShudraCole Shudra
Cole Shudra

Sunday, with two league points at stake, will be by far the bigger game, in sporting terms.

After pre-game ceremonies, Sheffield must go all-out for the win despite their coach admitting some players may not be "100% ready."

The players are only human so this is a tough weekend ahead, but professionalism will likely be their mantra during the 120 minutes.

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Meanwhile, Panthers have confirmed that they will play Manchester in the "Adam Johnson Memorial" at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday, November 18.

Omar Pacha, Panthers CEO, said: "We'd like to thank our amazing supporters and partners for their patience with us at this difficult time for everyone. You have constantly been in our thoughts.

"We'd also like to thank Manchester for agreeing to help us by taking part in this exhibition game. We want to honour Adam and everything about who he was as a person and a player.

"Our thoughts remain with Adam's partner Ryan, his family, friends and the whole of the Hibbing (Minnesota) community who clearly loved Adam dearly."