Ice hockey: Panthers seek home truths

NOTTINGHAM PANTHERS already have an important psychological edge over Sheffield Steelers going into tomorrow's Challenge Cup final.

Coach Mike Blaisdell's Panthers will be the "home" team at the Sheffield Arena having won a vital toss of the coin. In their own building, Steelers will be sat on the away bench and in their away strip, although rights are still being resolved with regard to the dressing room due to an earlier agreement.

Crucial for Blaisdell, however, is that he will have the last line change, allowing him to match up whichever players are needed to combat the prolific Ed Courtenay/Tony Hand/Ken Priestlay triumvirate. The trio have been the key to Steelers' success in the competition this season, and Blaisdell knows if he can shut them down then his side should end up with more silverware.

Having already tasted victory in the Arena in December when the Panthers won the Benson and Hedges Cup, Blaisdell said: "Our game plan has to centre around Courtenay, Hand and Priestlay. We can't allow them to stroll around and act like it's a Sunday picnic. I can assure them it won't be like that against us. We won the coin toss, which I think is an important factor. It means we're the `home' team in Sheffield, so we're going to go in, take charge and treat the place like it's our building.

"We're also going to have 3,000 fans or more there as well. So it's not as if we're going in without any support. I think the home ice advantage is diluted slightly because of the fact we're going to have a big crowd."

Blaisdell was able to go on a scouting mission last night as he was Sky's expert summariser in Steelers' 7-2 play-off mauling of London Knights.

Although his side has lost all four games in Sheffield this season, Blaisdell said: "Some of the things London were doing we would never do. We're not going to allow them that much time on the puck. They were allowed to stroll through the neutral zone and they will pay the price if they try that against us.

"We'll try to knock them around a little bit. It will be good clean, hard hockey, but there will be no prisoners taken. We're coming after this cup and we're going to play it tough."

Sheffield coach Don McKee admitted the coin toss was performed in his absence, with him only being informed via telephone later on, and he said it was a crucial one to win.

"It's nice to have your own bench and your home strip," said McKee. "But those are only small things which won't worry us. "Winning the coin toss allows them to have last change. Matching lines is important between two evenly-matched teams, but we'll just have to overcome that.

"Nottingham initially asked us to give up last change without the coin toss in favour of us having our own bench and colours. But he (Blaisdell) knew I wasn't going to give up the 50/50 chance of having last change. It's behind us now, so we'll just prepare as if we're the visiting team."

Play-off games this weekend see London at home to Manchester today in Group A, with Storm then hosting Bracknell Bees tomorrow. In Group B, Cardiff Devils travel to Ayr Scottish Eagles, also on Sunday.

Suggested Topics
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker