Ice Hockey: Steelers wary of own rink

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The Independent Online
DON McKEE, the Sheffield Steelers coach, believes his side's home arena could boost London Knights' hopes of finally scoring a first victory this season.

The new franchise is still without a win after four games. Jim Fuyarchuk's side now travel to the Sheffield Arena today looking to break their duck, with McKee determined to stamp out any complacency among his side who may feel they are in for an easy ride.

He said: "London are still without a win and one of the things they are going to want to do is to make their mark.

"The Knights are building around speed and transition, and what may help them is the big ice here at Sheffield. We have to prepare to counter against their strengths.

"Our first game against London was extremely competitive and could have gone either way. We are going to have to be very strong defensively against them."

Fuyarchuk also pinpointed defence as the key to a groundbreaking victory - although with only seven goals in their four games, offence is clearly proving a teething problem as well.

"The results that Sheffield have produced in the last couple of weeks show them as a strong contender," he said. "In our last game against them they showed a lot of spark and were potent offensively.

"We must play a strong and simple defensive game if we are to come away with the win."

Steelers will have their new signing, the 21-year-old Richard Uniacke, in their line-up as replacement for Shane Henry, who was recently released by the club due to poor fitness and performance levels.

The other game in the Benson & Hedges group sees the Nottingham Panthers at home to Storm, with the two sides having drawn their previous game 3-3 at the MEN Arena.

Victory for Manchester will see them win the group, although the Panthers have proved to be a bogey side for Kurt Kleinendorst's side, who lost four and drew one of the six meetings last season.

Kleiendorst said: "The Panthers look like a really solid team, and the Nottingham rink is always a tough place to play in.

"I believe that like Sheffield, Nottingham are a much improved side this season. The game should prove to be a close, hard-checking encounter."

The Panthers coach, Mike Blaisedell, said: "Manchester fixtures have always been good to the Panthers in the past."

The other match today sees the Bracknell Bees at home to the unbeaten Ayr Scottish Eagles in Group A, and the Eagles travel to Cardiff Devils tomorrow, while in Group B, London host Nottingham and Sheffield travel to Manchester.