Sheffield Steelers head into their Christmas double-header against Nottingham Panthers hoping to continue their recent dominance over their big rivals.
The teams have met three times in the Elite League this season, with the Steelers recording three victories by an impressive 19-6 aggregate scoreline.
Head Coach Paul Thompson says he’s looking forward to pitting his wits against the Panthers once again.
“It’s going to be a full house – these games over Christmas are the biggest fixtures on the calendar,” he told the Sheffield Star.
“I will be anxious to get it going – when you know it’s going to be a full barn and the atmosphere is going to be electric, I’ll feel excited rather than nervous.”
“If you’re going to be successful in sport or any walk of life your big players have to turn up and they have done that pretty well against Nottingham, so I don’t have any complaints there.
“We have played well against Nottingham, we’ve just got to be totally focused.”
Boxing Day’s clash in Sheffield sees the Panthers revisit the scene of two of their worst performances of the season.
Defeats of 8-1 and 6-1 gave the Steelers the local bragging rights, but Assistant Coach Rick Strachan doesn’t believe they’ll have any bearing on the upcoming fixtures.
“Those games are gone – in this industry the last game has to be gone,” he told the Nottingham Post. “We’ve played what, seven or eight games since then?
“Win or lose, once the last game is over you have to forget about it. The next game is coming quickly. We can’t worry about the previous game because it won’t help you.”
Panthers trailed 3-0 at the end of the first period of each of the last two matches in Sheffield and Strachan insists the team must get off to a better start this time around.
“The start of any hockey game is crucial. You especially want a fast start against Sheffield,” he added.
“They’ve got a dynamic team that can score in bunches, so we’ve got to go there in the first five minutes and start well.”
Braehead Clan v Belfast Giants
Coventry Blaze v Cardiff Devils
Fife Flyers v Edinburgh Capitals
Manchester Storm v Dundee Stars
Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers
Cardiff Devils v Coventry Blaze
Edinburgh Capitals v Braehead Clan
Nottingham Panthers v Sheffield Steelers
(Image permission: Karl Denham)