As a Steeler the one match you want to win is against Nottingham Panthers
Its drilled into you from the day you sign that the games against the Panthers mean more to the club than any other.
History has shown that the Steelers have won far more games, trophies and of course league championships than our nearest and dearest, but that doesn’t tell the story of this season and that has to change on Sunday.
The Panthers have the Steelers number, they have already won both Challenge Cup games and the one league fixture already played. They are gloating, their arrogant strut has returned and they are smiling at us, laughing.
Then we see this week that the Steelers head coach Ryan Finnerty is apologising to his fellow players and the club as a whole for letting his emotions get the better of him in last Saturdays 1-0 defeat to the Panthers.
What’s going on here?
Firstly I don’t want Finnerty to lose that edge. Sure stop taking dumb penalties but don’t lose the grit, the desire, the enthusiasm and the passion to beat Nottingham. What I want to see is more Finnerty’s out there. Guys wearing their hearts on their sleeves, showing us all what it means to beat the Panthers.
In these games you expect your stars to stand up and be counted. I expect Finnerty to lead the charge at the Motorpoint Arena on Sunday when the Panthers call in (face off 7pm).
I expect Finnerty to get some help as well. Ryan told me that he isn’t over concerned about the lack of goals in recent games. Well I am. I’m looking for Legue to have a big night against the Panthers and show us why we rate him as high as we do.
I rate Ashley Tait as the best British player in the league but I’m fed up of David Clark outscoring him in these big games. I love Jason Hewitt and what he brings to the club but he has to be better than Mathew Myers when those two clash.
Steelers v Panthers games are about pure emotion and character. The Steelers have enough, more than enough but Sunday is the time they have to show it. Put it together for 60 minutes and deliver what the people desire ... a victory over the Panthers. Last Saturday’s encounter had a lot more energy, feistiness and huge hits than a few of the recent games. These two teams seem to be finding their identities in the clashes against one another although Panthers have learned quicker than the Steelers how to win these big battles and how not to let the occasion get on top of you.
Steelers new boys have had three games to get used to the ‘Occasion’ and the time for waiting is over, it’s time to deliver. I’m taking Finnerty to deliver a huge blow to halt the Panthers rising.
The first rule of being a Steelers is, and has always has been, that the Nottingham Panthers don’t win championships.
It has worked for the 20 years of Steelers history and it has to work again this season. There’s no better way to ensure that happens than by beating them on Sunday.
See you there. Face off 5pm; tickets: Arena Box Office: 0114 2565656