After Eight

Jono Bullard reminisces on a special night at ice Sheffield

There have been many articles on The Cat’s Whiskers in the past that are based around those ‘you had to be there’ moments and this one is going to be no different. As I’m sure most people are aware, last night at ice Sheffield the final score was Sheffield Steelers 0 Nottingham Panthers 8 in the Challenge Cup semi-final 1st leg. That is Steelers biggest ever home defeat and also Panthers biggest ever win in Sheffield.

Did I expect that? No, not in my wildest dreams but I have been waiting 25 years to see Panthers win like that in Sheffield and it was so good to be there to witness it. Everyone knows the shenanigans that went on once the fixture was announced, however my old mate David Simms did put this on Twitter on the morning of the game…


I’d like to think he was joking but probably he wasn’t. Let’s face it if there really was such thing as karma then Steelers would lose every game 8-0!

However I digress, this is about what it was like to be in ice Sheffield last night. To be honest despite the rink being almost full to its 1,500 capacity, the atmosphere wasn’t electric as you would expect pre-game, I would describe it more as a nervous crackle. Due to the Panthers dominance the only noise after 15 minutes was coming from around 300 Panthers fans in the building, with only the odd boo or curse coming from the Steelers ranks. The fact that there were any visiting fans there at all is surprising when you consider that there are more Steelers season ticket holders than the capacity of Ice Sheffield. The fact there was so many Panthers fans there is incredible.
The thing is even though Panthers won 8-0 I don’t think we actually played brilliantly. We were very clinical in front of goal, excellent going forward, tight at the back, but I didn’t feel we dominated them. One of the things that really annoys me when any team loses is the ‘we were rubbish’ mantra which I feel gives no credit to the victors. However in this case it’s fair enough, the Steelers really were dreadful and allowed themselves to be picked apart by the visitors with ease.

Obviously there’s still a second leg tonight and while the odds on Panthers going through to the final are going to be miniscule, it would be disrespectful to say we’re already there with 60 minutes of hockey still to play. The unthinkable happened last night, what’s to say it can’t happen again?
Still this is about last night. It was incredible to experience and I’m so glad I was there to witness something I don’t think I’d ever see. It was a special night that will be held in similar esteem to the famous B&H semi-final against Storm, Winning the league in Belfast and the Challenge Cup final comeback against the Giants. This was right up there with them, the thrashing at the en-suite.

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