Steelers' chance of history

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The Independent Online
Ice hockey

Sheffield Steelers will become only the fourth team in the history of modern British ice hockey to monopolise a season's main silverware if they can repeat their British Championship play-off success of 12 months ago by winning tomorrow's final at Wembley.

However, the Steelers coach, Clyde Tuyl, whose side face Humberside in today's first semi-final - Durham and Nottingham meet in the other - said thoughts of a clean sweep were premature. "The grand slam is obviously an objective," said Tuyl, whose side have already claimed the British League for a second successive season and the Benson and Hedges Cup for the first time. "It is not our focus, though. The focus this week is winning - if we are fortunate to do so then we can look back on the season knowing we have done the grand slam."

Humberside Hawks, whose whole future as a top-flight club is in doubt because of a lack of funding, were not expected to reach Wembley, especially after sacking their coach, John Griffith, a couple of days after the league campaign ended. But, under the guidance of Keith Millhench, they finished second to Durham in their group. Humberside's home victories over Cardiff - runners-up in the league - and Durham effectively ensured progression, with their defeat in the Welsh capital in the final group game meaningless.

"It is never easy to make such a change so late," Millhench said. "There is a lot of confidence and spirit in the team now. We don't mind who we meet." However, Sheffield's recent big-game experience and their strength in depth should give them the edge.

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