RYAN Finnerty hopes Sheffield Steelers can make home life anything but comfortable when they head to Tayside on Saturday night.
Having clinched their Challenge Cup quarter-final place with a 7-2 hammering of Coventry Blaze on Wednesday night, the Steelers return to league action with arguably the toughest road trip of the season.
A seven-hour 300-mile trip to Scotland will see Finnerty’s team - sitting third in the overall Elite League table - met by the league’s most consistent home team.
Coached by former Steelers forward Jeff Hutchins, the Stars boast the best home record, having won seven out of their eight fixtures at Dundee Ice Arena, and even taking a point out of their one defeat on penalties against Coventry Blaze at the start of the season.
Almost three weeks ago, Finnerty took his team up to Fife Flyers only to return home on the back end of a shock 4-2 defeat and is keen to avoid a similar fate this time around north of the border.
“Dundee are definitely playing well at home,“ said Finnerty. “We learned our lesson when we went up to Fife recently so we
’ve got to be ready to go from the first drop.
“They are a strong hockey club and their goaltending is impressive too so we’ve got to go up there and play to our capabilities or we will suffer a defeat.”
In former Nottingham Panthers forward Sami Rhyanen, the Stars possess one of the league’s top points scorers - the Finn currently boasting seven goals and 20 assists from 16 games, although goals are not the Scottish clubs’ best quality, currently having the second-worst record in the league.
Press the PLAY button at the top of this page to hear Ryan Finnerty talk about his side’s chances in Dundee
Finnerty admits there will be a degree of stepping into the unknown for both teams with it being the first meeting between the two of the season. But the Steelers’ coach his players can add to the five road wins they have captured already this season - regardless of how long they spend on the coach ride up there.
“It doesn’t change much to be honest - seven hours on the bus for a lot of these North American guys is a short trip,“ he added. “So I think we’ve got to block that out - it can’t be an excuse. We’ve just got to make sure we show up.
“I think guys can be a bit more relaxed playing on the road and we’ve had good success away this year.
“When you’re at home you kind of want to put on a bit of a show and sometimes you can forget about the little things that win you games in the end.
“But when you’re an away team, if you can put pressure on the home team quickly it can soon sway in your favour if the crowd gets on the home side‘s back. So getting a good start is something we’ll definitely be looking to do and take it from there.”
Steelers end their 600-mile round trip on Sunday by returning to the Motorpoint Arena to take on arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers in the Challenge Cup (5pm). Both teams have already qualified for the quarter-final stages, with the Steelers moving to the top of the Group B following their impressive 7-2 home win over Coventry Blaze on Wednesday.