Wednesday night could be crucial in the race for both the league title, and in determining out first Challenge Cup finalist. League leaders Cardiff head to Sheffield where they’ve not been since September, while Nottingham head to Guildford for the Semi-Final first leg. As conventional wisdom goes – no side can book their place in the final in the first leg, but they could go a long way to securing it.
With both teams coming off the back of four-point weekends, one of them will seeing their winning streak come to an end – for the Steelers it’s two games, for the Devils it’s nine having not tasted defeat since Boxing Day. The Devils this week play three road games, and for all the good felling after their two wins against Belfast, that lead at the top could soon shrink down again if they don’t back it on the road – starting in Sheffield. While the Steelers did struggle for form at the start of 2019, they have won four of their last five on their own ice.
“It is going to be a good challenge against Cardiff and we are looking forward to it. We’re playing better as a team since the last time we met, and if we play the same style we have in our last two games when it will be a good contest.” – Aaron Johnson (Defenseman, Sheffield Steelers)
“It’s a big week for us. While confidence is high after the wins last weekend, we know that Sheffield is not an easy place to go to. We have to keep doing what we know it takes to win.” – Layne Ulmer (Forward, Cardiff Devils)
|At home||On road|
|Av. Goals For||3.15||4.00|
|Av. Goals Against||3.00||2.24|
2000 Guildford Flames vs. Nottingham Panthers |Challenge Cup (Tickets)
Semi-Final – First Leg
Neither Guildford nor Nottingham have been in the most consistent form of late, something that cost Rich Chernomaz his job as Head Coach of the Panthers, but nonetheless both find themselves just two games away from playing for the first silverware of the season. Guildford have struggled especially at home in the league, only three wins in ten attempts, but moved past Sheffield in the Quarter-Finals by winning on home ice. The Panthers broke a long losing streak with a penalty shot win in Fife on Sunday night, and will be well aware that they’ve not lost on three previous visits to the Spectrum so far this season.
“We’ve had good games against Nottingham this season. It’s a six period game but we approach it to go out and try to win each period. Hopefully we have something to take to Nottingham in the return game.” – John Dunbar (Forward, Guildford Flames)
“It’s a trophy that we’re building towards and we want to win, so tomorrow night’s a huge game. We’ve got to treat it as if it’s one of the biggest games of the year.” – Luke Pither (Forward, Nottingham Panthers)
In numbers (Challenge Cup):
|At home||On road|
|Av. Goals For||3.50||3.67|
|Av. Goals Against||3.00||2.67|