PAUL THOMPSON expects a backlash from Coventry Blaze when they arrive in South Yorkshire tonight looking to exact swift revenge on Sheffield Steelers.
The Steelers shut out Blaze in an impressive road 4-0 win at the Skydome Arena last Saturday, a result which no doubt rankled with a home crowd looking to put one over on their former coach, Thompson, who was returning with an opposing team for the first time since he left the club two years ago.
The two teams clash again in Group B of the Challenge Cup tonight with Thompson and his players understandably in buoyant mood after they followed up their victory in Coventry with an 8-1 thrashing of Cardiff Devils on home ice the following night.
Thompson admits he was relieved to get the first meeting with his former club out of the way last weekend - he won 15 trophies during his 18 years in charge there - and is expecting Chuck Weber’s players to come out flying tonight.
“You always expect a reaction from a team when you’ve beaten them in their building,” said Thompson.
“They’ll have had a good look at us now and what we’re about, the same for us with them. They’ll be keen to win in our building, but we’ve just got to concentrate on our own game and our own strengths.
“They haven’t got off to the best of starts but they are well-coached and well-led. Chuck has a plan and he will stick to it - you only have to see how they did last season, it took time for things to settle down after he came in but it paid off in the end when they won the play-off final.
“This league is better for having a strong Coventry team again.”
The Steelers don’t begin the defence of their Elite League title until they visit Dundee Stars next weekend, but Thompson insisted his only focus was on accumulating as many points as possible in the Cup group phase.
He added: “Every game is a priority as far as I’m concerned.
“There are three trophies up for grabs and we want to try and win all of them,” he said.
In the English Premier League, Hull Pirates will look to pick up a first win of the season under player-coach Dominic Osman.
The opening weekend brought defeats to Manchester Phoenix (4-1) and Guildford Flames (5-1) with tonight bringing a visit to Hull Arena from Telford before Osman’s team head to Bracknell tomorrow.
Sheffield Steeldogs, who share the same owner with Pirates in Shane Smith, are also winless ahead of tonight’s visit to Milton Keynes Lightning.
Greg Wood’s team - who lost to Telford and Bracknell on the opening weekend of action - return home tomorrow to play host to Swindon Wildcats.