No easy ride expected by Steelers’ Finnerty

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RYAN Finnerty is expecting Coventry Blaze to make life extremely difficult for his Sheffield Steelers team in the Challenge Cup tonight – despite their West Midlands rivals having already qualified for the next stage.

Steelers need one win from their last five Group B games to make sure of joining Coventry in the last eight, with Hull Stingrays and Cardiff Devils fighting it out for the fourth and final place, something likely to be determined by their meeting in South Wales tomorrow night.

Coventry confirmed their place in the quarter-finals with two wins over Cardiff at the weekend, the second of which in the principality drew headlines for the post-match fighting which flared up between rival players.

Steelers’ head coach Finnerty – likely to be deprived of defenceman Rod Sarich through injury tonight – believes the Blaze will be keen to gain revenge for his side’s recent 3-0 league win in Coventry.

Finnerty hailed that performance as one of the best he had witnessed since returning to the club as coach last summer, having seen his side restrict the hosts to just one shot in the final period.

“After what we did to them at their place, I reckon it’s going to be a tough night,” said Finnerty.

Nottingham Panthers increased their lead at the the top of the Elite League table last night with a 1-0-0 thumping of Edinburgh Capitals at the National Ice Centre.

Belfast Giants moved into second place above the Steelers courtesy of a 5-=1 home win over Fiufe Flyers, in a match which doubled up as a Challenge Cup fixture, ending Edinburgh’s already-slim hopes of qualifying from Group A.