Panthers semi ‘a real test’

Double target: Jonathan Phillips.
Double target: Jonathan Phillips.
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SHEFFIELD Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips believes Saturday’s Play Off semi-final will be every bit as intense as the Sunday Final itself.

Sheffield take on Nottingham Panthers in their own NIC rink in Saturday’s afternoon game, (1pm) which will be followed by the Cardiff Devils v Belfast Giants match (5pm)

If things go well for two-club owner Paul Ragan, Sheffield will go through and meet his other team, Cardiff, in the final - reflecting the first and second positions of the clubs in the league.

Phillips though knows Steelers face a battle to get past Panthers.

“I’m expecting another war,” he said. “Nottingham had their problems earlier on and seem to have come through them. They have won the Challenge Cup and now want to go on and take the Play Offs as a second trophy.

“That’s a bit like us, we came through a difficult league schedule and won the league championship. We now want to go on and win the double, like we did a couple of years ago. The teams stack up well against each other, I’m sure it will be the game of the weekend, old rivalries will come out and there is nothing like a Steelers v Panthers game.

“We have all week to prepare. We want to go to the final game and lift the trophy once again.”

Phillips added: “All our games against Nottingham are like play off finals. This one will be a major battle, obviously.

“We are used to playing them in their own rink and in front of a sell out crowd.

“And the home advantage that Nottingham will have isn’t that great, with fans in the building from all the teams in the league. That won’t worry us.”