Ice-Hockey: Double-headed Panthers

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The Independent Online
Nottingham Panthers face the biggest weekend of their season when they tackle Manchester Storm and Sheffield Steelers in a double-header.

Panthers, top of the table, take on second-placed Storm at home today, with the game against their bitter rivals Sheffield tomorrow night.

Mike Blaisdell's side are level on points with Manchester, but lead due to more wins, while Steelers are two points adrift in third with a game in hand.

Nottingham suffered their worst league defeat of the season last Sunday when they were on the receiving end of a Benson and Hedges Cup backlash against Cardiff Devils.

Cardiff ran out 6-2 winners in Panthers' own backyard just 24 hours after being beaten by Ayr Scottish Eagles in the final.

Blaisdell said: "It's an eight-point weekend. With 14 games to go, we've never had such a tight race at this stage of the season, so these are two vital league matches."

Nottingham should have new signing Mike De Angelis. The 31-year-old defence man is a veteran of both the World Championships and the Olympics for Italy.

Other League games today see Bracknell Bees at home to Cardiff and Basingstoke Bison meeting Ayr Scottish Eagles, while Newcastle Cobras go to Sheffield in the Express Cup.

But in another clash of the titans and in a re-run of the B&H Cup final, Cardiff face a home league match-up with Ayr on Sunday. Just eight days after their meeting at the Sheffield Arena.

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