Panthers v Steelers Christmas 2011 Preview

Nottingham Panthers & Sheffield Steelers renew their rivalry once again in the now traditional Christmas double header. Boxing Day will see the Steelers play host while a sold out NIC will witness game two on the 27th December.
Steelers currently hold the box seat in the title race. With just two losses in the league so far this season they look like favourites to retain their title. In fact, Steelers last loss was a 1-0 defeat in Nottingham on November 12th, with their only other league defeat being a 4-0 loss in Cardiff on September 17th.
I asked Steelers Player/Coach Ryan Finnerty if he thought they could keep up their league form for the remainder of the season. He said “I think it will be tough to keep this form, although we are just focused at one game at a time. Rough patches will come.”
I also asked if he saw these two games against the Panthers as pivotal part of the season, he replied “The team who can work themselves out the quickest will have the best chance of success. I think the way both clubs are playing it would be huge for one team to sweep, I feel those points would be difficult to get back.”

While Steelers league form continues to impress, Panthers form, while impressive, isn’t as good. Too many losses to fellow title challengers Belfast, Coventry and Sheffield has put a dent in their title ambitions, but they are by no means out of the race, picking up 20 out of 22 available league points since their last regular time league defeat against Cardiff on 5th November.
Panthers do have an excellent record against the Steelers so far this season, dropping just one point against them in four league & cup meetings. In fact, three of Steelers four defeats this season have come against the Panthers and it is imperative that sort of form continues if Panthers are to stay in the title race.

I asked Panthers captain Danny Meyers if Panthers could afford to drop points against the Steelers and stay in the hunt, he replied “I wouldn’t say it is make or break but it is hugely important these two games. To lose both would be devastating to our title hopes, a split would be ok at best and of course 4 points will put us right back in the mix and a nice little voodoo doll over the Steelers team. Either way it’s going to be great to be a part of and with much negativity going on about our league at the moment it’s a big positive for both teams.”
I also asked how much of a blow it was to lose Scott Champagne with so many important games coming up “I think Champagne leaving has worked out well for both sides to be honest. You get a feeling when you are captain who is and isn’t happy and to be honest Champey hadn’t looked happy for a month or so. When a player isn’t 100% happy then it is best if he moves on and in this case he received a great offer from Germany, so it was meant to be. It is always tough to see someone leave but it’s also nice to get a new guy in to freshen things up so whether that is our new Finnish guy (Sami Ryhanen) or someone else, we hope both we and Champey can move onto better things.”

Both games should be tense, nervous affairs with so much riding on them and that has had a positive effect on ticket sales. As mentioned earlier, the game at the NIC is a complete sell out with the final tickets being sold last week, but tickets should be available for the game in Sheffield up until face-off if you’d like to go, but be quick, tickets are selling fast. Panthers fans sit in blocks 101, 102, 201 & 202 at the Sheffield Arena.
Steel Night Live will be providing live audio & text commentary on Boxing Day while TCW Live will be providing live text commentary from the game in Nottingham on the 27th.


2 Responses to “Panthers v Steelers Christmas 2011 Preview”

  1. 1 Steelerian December 24, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Nice review. Should be a great couple of games.

  2. 2 John H December 24, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Good work Jono. I’m predicting evens over the 2 games. Should be one heck of an advert for the game.

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