Rivals’ threat to Sheffield Steelers is noted by relaxed Thompson

Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Paul Thompson. Picture: Dean Woolley.
Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Paul Thompson. Picture: Dean Woolley.
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SHEFFIELD STEELERS will have to wait another week to start the defence of their Elite League crown but, for now, they can content themselves with a 100 per cent start to the season in the Challenge Cup.

That perfect record – garnered from wins over Nottingham Panthers, Coventry Blaze and Manchester Storm – will come under serious strain this weekend with tonight’s trip to Nottingham being followed by a first visit of the season to South Yorkshire by Cardiff Devils tomorrow.

As usual, both teams will pose a threat to the Steelers’ silverware aspirations this season and while Thompson is aware of the various strengths posed by both line-ups, he is happy to concentrate on the many positives of a Steelers roster which has started the domestic campaign so well.

“We have total respect for both Cardiff and Nottingham as teams and they are going to be up there once again this season when it comes to fighting for honours,” said Thompson.

“But I prefer not to waste too much of our energy on what opponents may or may not do. Obviously we do our homework on them, but I’m more interested in spending time on what we are going to do and how we are going to control games and the influence we’re going to exert on any given night.”

Last weekend saw the Steelers earn bragging rights over the Panthers with a 7-5 victory at Sheffield Arena, a scoreline he felt flattered the visitors somewhat.

Defensive lapses by the Steelers were duly noted by Thompson prompting work on those areas during the week, something he hopes will bear fruit at the National Ice Centre.

And having finished their Champions Hockey League campaign on a much longed-for winning high, the Steelers have continued in that vein, giving Thompson plenty to be happy about early on in the season.

“There were plenty of positives from last Sunday against Nottingham,” added Thompson. “One thing we have here is a superb work ethic and commitment from this team.”

Cardiff arrive in Sheffield having bounced back from last Saturday’s 2-0 league/cup loss in Nottingham with a thumping 6-1 win in the league at home against Fife Flyers.