Paul Thompson will demand ultra-quick shifts of just 25 seconds each tonight from each of his skaters as Sheffield Steelers take on the ice hockey equivalent of soccer super power Real Madrid.
The side have been practising short, sharp shifts in training, in readiness for playing Frölunda Gothenburg in Sweden this evening and JYP Jyväskylä in Finland on Saturday. Thompson says: “We have to play four lines away from home against these teams, we have to get used to is shortening our shift length. We cannot go out for 50 -60 seconds. Their defencemen change on the rush. So it is a very different game. We have talked about that; 25 seconds - maximum...if that!”
Thompson says it’s debatable which is the better of the two sides they face over the next three days.
“It’s a toss of the coin, probably Frölunda. They are rated as the Real Madrid of Europe in the way they play and their speed. The Finns may be a little more physical. But again they will have that speed.
“We have an almighty challenge ahead of us, but we are all excited and looking forward to it.”
Thompson joked: “We have done some video on Frölunda, we broke them down and once the boys stopped crying after I showed them it...!
“We respect what they are, we respect they have some of the best players in the world.
“I have not coached against them, (Thompson coached in Sweden with IF Troja-Ljungby and Aalborg Pirates of Denmark in 2014-5) I never got to those dizzy heights.
“But I have saw them a few times and they are a fabulous team to watch the way the play and their work-rate. A really good skating team.”
The Steelers boss knows, defensively, his team must be sharper than they were on Sunday in the friendly against Braehead Clan.
“The five or six three-on-twos we gave up they will execute on them. That’s the difference.”
Elite league rivals Clan are at Vaxjo Lakers in Sweden at the same time as Steelers play tonight.