Ice hockey / Steelers aim to tame Panthers

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The Independent Online
Ice hockey

Sheffield Steelers take on Nottingham Panthers, the defending champions, in today's Benson & Hedges Cup final, writes Steve Pinder.

Panthers beat Cardiff Devils 7-2 last year, but the goal difference this time should not be as wide, with previous league matches between the two sides usually decided by the odd goal or two. In addition, Panthers are the only team who can travel to Sheffield with the on-ice confidence that has made them one of the few teams to leave with points in previous years.

For Mike Blaisedell, the Panthers' player/coach, fitness will be the key to victory. Pre-final talk about a hernia problem may have been kidology, but he is suffering from the effects of an abdominal injury which could upset the balance of a team who play as a unit, rather than as individuals.

However, Steelers are at full strength, and given that they have also taken full advantage of the reclassified import rule, their side is stronger on paper.