By Alex Briggs
Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena will host British Ice Hockey’s biggest rivalry as the Panthers welcome Paul Thompson and his Sheffield Steelers in the Challenge Cup semi-final.
Sheffield find themselves with home ice advantage as the first leg away from home means they will be in familiar territory should the game go South.
Captain Moran says the team is excited ahead of home cup clash https://t.co/la9rbZpTRc
— Nottingham Panthers (@PanthersIHC) January 24, 2017
After finishing the weekend with a dogged performance in Cardiff on Sunday night, Head Coach Paul Thompson was impressed with how his side were looking.
Thompson told the Steelers media team: “We were the best team in Cardiff from start to finish.”
Losing to the Fife Flyers on penalty shots on Sunday wasn’t the best way to enter this fixture for the Panthers, especially with the injury worries they have.
Stephen Schultz could return to the line-up in time for the Panthers but will also be without Chris Lawrence who will need an x-ray after being hit by the puck.
Panthers Head Coach Cory Nielson told the Nottingham Post: “”It will be nice to get Schultzy back obviously.”
Sheffield will be at full strength with no major injury worries to note. Whether Liam Kirk or Cole Shudra will see ice time is still unknown.
With games between Sheffield and Nottingham always an attraction for a good crowd, it’s expected to be a noisy building when the teams hit the ice.
Colton Fretter will be a key player for the Steelers as will big centre man John Armstrong who are both in the midst of hot-streak.
Jason Williams has emerged to be a remarkable signing for the reigning Challenge Cup side and has already proved to be a thorn in the Steelers side at Christmas.
Having won the Continental Cup last weekend, Nottingham need to find their feet in the Elite League again.
Sheffield and Nottingham will face each other five more times, having already battled wits in seven games before this fixture.