Sheffield Steelers’ ace predicts tight contest at Nottingham Panthers

Flashback: Sheffield Steelers routed by Nottingham Panthers 23/02/16. Pic: Dean Woolley

Flashback: Sheffield Steelers routed by Nottingham Panthers 23/02/16. Pic: Dean Woolley

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The darkest point of Sheffield Steelers’ ultimately successful season, in 2015-16, was a 10-0 aggregate hiding in the Challenge Cup semi final, to Nottingham Panthers.

Robert Dowd wants nothing other than to bury that painful memory. But on the eve of meeting the same team again on Saturday night, he forced himself to recall: “Last year we’d had a great run, winning our very tough qualification group and breezing through the quarter finals. “The feeling was that we had a great chance and then we ran into injuries and a horrible fixture congestion at the time of the semis with Nottingham and we all know what happened then.

“Everyone knows we are a club that concentrates on the League and that is our number one target every year. It doesn’t mean we don’t want to win the Cup though because we do...I don’t know why it’s been an elusive trophy for us.”

Steelers beat Panthers 7-5 last Sunday in the first group game.

“If we can go into Nottingham and take another two points there then the first hurdle of making the knockout stages will be as good as complete” said Dowd.

“I don’t see another 12-goal shoot out this weekend though. I think the game in Nottingham will be a lot tighter game than the open free flowing game in our barn. They will want revenge for sure.

“I’m interested to see Cardiff on Sunday as well. They have pushed us to the last game of the season for the last two years and I think will do so again.

“These weekends are the ones you look forward to, playing in big games in front of big crowds. We are all focused on four Challenge Cup points.”

n Notts’ goalie Niika Wiikman tops the League with a 97% save ratio.

Steelers’ custodian Ervins Mustukovs stands at 86%.