Ice Hockey: Steelers steeled for Storm storm

Sheffield Steelers are expecting a backlash from Manchester Storm today with both clubs knowing they face a make-or-break Express Cup tie at the Nynex Arena.

Alex Dampier's side did not have a happy Christmas as Steelers suffered two shock home defeats to Nottingham Panthers and Bracknell Bees in the space of three days.

But Sheffield are Manchester's bogey side this season as they have won three and drawn one of their four meetings, with Storm in need of a Cup tonic after one win from six games in the competition this season. Both sides, two of the favourites to lift the trophy, are in danger of the humiliation of not even reaching the semi-finals.

The Sheffield coach, Clyde Tuyl, said of his side: "I'm sure they will want to settle this now."

Newcastle Cobras, meanwhile, have started their Express Cup campaign in identical fashion to the Superleague - with a string of defeats - but are now hoping history that repeats itself. Cobras lost eight in a row in the league before a 5-4 home victory over Nottingham Panthers - their opponents today after a run of five successive Cup losses.

The other game of the night is the Thames Valley derby, with Bracknell at home to Basingstoke, with Bison having won two and lost three of the five meetings so far.

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