Steelers are up for the cup this season

Dave Simms Telegraph Web Tile

Dave Simms Telegraph Web Tile

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Despite the Steelers’ loss to the Nottingham Panthers on Sunday, Ryan Finnerty’s side are still in all three Elite League competitions - although all would agree that the Panthers are now the favorites to lift their first league crown since 1956.

Maybe, then, this year is the year of the Steelers lifting the Challenge Cup.

Tonight they face Dundee Stars in the first leg of the cup quarter final, with the return leg at iceSheffield next Wednesday.

Finnerty confirmed at the start of the season that the cup would be a priority.

Tonight’s game is a welcome distraction from the league season. It’s an important one as well, as the Steelers need to lift a trophy this year to cement themselves back at the top of their game.

Steelers will be favourites to proceed over two legs, but they know they will go into the tie knowing that they have had their difficulties against many of the Scottish teams recently.

Nic Riopel has proved to be one of the outstanding players in the league.

As the Star’s goalie, he has give Dundee a chance to win on any night. He is already being targeted around Europe for a summer move.

The cup has an importance on many levels. Sure, Finnerty wants that first coaching trophy under his belt.

He also knows the financial rewards of progression in the cup and how that will help his situation in the seasons ahead.

The Steelers have had a poor record progressing to the semi finals and final stages of the competitions in recent year,s and it was Finnerty who made a strong point at the start of the season for singling out success this year.

Funnily enough, Finnerty hasn’t won this competition as a coach or a player; the only competition missing on his résumé.

This first leg is pretty much Dundee’s season; they know they need a draw or a win to stand any chance of progression. This is their game seven.

Bradford City, though, showed us on Tuesday that if the favourites take their opponent lightly, then they are in big trouble.

Finnerty and the Steelers won’t take the Stars lightly - they have too much respect.

I expect a small Steelers win on Thursday and a cracking return leg at iceSheffield next Wednesday - with the Steelers progressing.