Ice hockey: Storm brewing for Knights

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The Independent Online
LONDON KNIGHTS' coach Chris McSorley has warned Manchester Storm to expect "a war" in tonight's Benson & Hedges Cup final at the Sheffield Arena. But McSorley is well aware of the threat the Superleague champions pose and admits his side will do everything they can to disrupt their flowing game in a quest to lift a trophy for the first time in the club's history.

Manchester are unbeaten in their last nine cup matches since their opening group stage defeat to Nottingham Panthers. Kurt Kleinendorst's side then needed overtime to dispose of Sheffield Steelers in the quarter-finals, before making cup history with Cardiff Devils when their semi-final second leg ended goalless in Wales - Storm's 4-0 first-leg cushion proving more than enough.

London, in contrast, overturned a 1-0 deficit against Ayr Scottish Eagles with a 7-0 victory at the Centrum Arena, before knocking out Bracknell Bees for a place in the final.

However, McSorley's plans have been wrecked by an injury crisis, with net-minder Trevor Robins ruled out with a groin strain. Greg Smythe (eye) and Darren Banks (foot) are also very doubtful and the club's leading points scorer, Paul Rushforth, is suffering with a damaged shoulder and has little chance of playing.

Nevertheless, McSorley is confident his team possess enough experience. Indeed, he need look no further than forward Jeff Hoad, who plays in his fourth consecutive cup final after helping Nottingham win in 1996, Ayr in '97 and being part of the beaten '98 Eagles side.

McSorley said: "It's blue collar versus white collar and as such it's going to be a war. Open hockey? That's not us. We'll slug it out... and try to take advantage of any chances that come our way."

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