Familiar foe Nottingham Panthers welcome Sheffield Steelers into 2018-19 Elite League campaign

NOTTINGHAM PANTHERS will provide the not-so-warm welcome for Sheffield Steelers when the 2018-19 Elite League season gets underway.

Sheffield Steelers will being their 2018-19 campaign with a trip to Nottingham Panthers in the Challenge Cup on September 1. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Paul Thompson’s side will face their long-time rivals on Saturday, September 1 in a Challenge Cup game at the National Ice Centre which serves as the curtain-raiser for the new campaign.

The Steelers’ first home game will be tghe following weekend when they host Milton keynes Lightning, with a return trip to Buckinghamshire the following night.

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The visit from the Lightning – including on-loan Steelers’ youngster Cole Shudra – will be the first of a number of special £5 home nights being put on by the Steelers throughout the season, ,with owner Tony Smith aiming to ensure that every single home game is played out of the FlyDSA Arena.

In previous season, a number of games have been played at the neighbouring Ice Sheffield facility.

“It’s a big change for the club,” said Smith. “When we signed our new agreement with SIV and the FlyDSA Arena last year we committed to become a full-time Arena club. In return, the Arena has provided us with a schedule that works and allows us to play our midweek games out of season ticket on one of our special £5 nights.”

The tradtional Christmas double-header with the Panthers sees the Steelers head down the M1 on Boxing Day before the two lock horns again in Sheffield 24 hours later.

The league will consist of 11 teams this season, following the demise of Edinburgh Capitals, with the three Conferences remaining.

Scottish trio Glasgow Clan, Dundee Stars and Fife Flyers, will play in the Gardiner Conference, while Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils, Nottingham and the Steelers will compete in the Erhardt Conference.

The Patton Conference will consist of Coventry Blaze, Milton Keynes Lightning, Guildford Flames and Manchester Storm.

Each team will play each other six times over the course of the campaign, three home and three away, giving them a total of 60 regular season games.

The final weekend of the regular season will be March 30-31, with the traditional play-off final weekend scheduled once again in Nottingham for

The Challenge Cup Final will take place on Sunday, March 10 and once again be staged at Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff.

The Play-off Finals Weekend will once again be in Nottingham and held on April 13-14.