NEWCASTLE Jesters are hoping heart and determination will help them beat their Sheffield voodoo and take home the Benson and Hedges Cup tonight.

Extra seating has been installed at the House of Steel, Sheffield Arena, to meet the demand for tickets and a crowd of 8,640 is expected to see the Jesters take on Sheffield Steelers.

Newcastle have never won at the venue and have lost five of the six meetings between the sides this season. Jesters' only win came in the group rounds of the cup, Sheffield's only defeat in the tournament.

But Newcastle have the big-game momentum over Sheffield, having convincingly defeated the Steelers in the play-off semi-finals this year.

The key to that victory, according to Jesters' general manager Mike O'Connor, was "heart and determination".

"It's that heart and determination that will see us through if we are to get through tomorrow night," he said.

"It's a huge task. We have 1,300 fans going to Sheffield, we are playing in the House of Steel and everybody else is a Sheffield Steelers supporter.

"We have never beaten them there and they are top of the table. We are the underdogs and I think the guys are relishing the prospect of going and stealing it from them."

The Jesters have received the green light on injury and illness worries over four players this week and two others, Rob Wilson and Louis Bedard, have flown back in from Canada, where they have been visiting sick relatives. New signing Bobby Halkidis arrived in Newcastle on Wednesday and will shore-up the roster even further.

O'Connor said: "It looks like we've got everybody back to full health. Tommi Sova has been training all week, so he will be dressing. Matt Oates picked up a groin injury but skated for the first time today, so hopefully he will be at full-strength."

Darren McAusland and Jari Suorsa have both reported fit after bouts of the flu.

"It's all come together and I think we are fully fit," said O'Connor.

The return of Oates will be a welcome boost as he leads the B&H scoring with eight goals, which helped turn the Jesters' cup season around after they finished bottom of their group.

Oates has again got his goal-scoring touch back, netting three last weekend in the Sekonda Superleague, including two in the recent 5-4 penalty-shot defeat against the Steelers.

Steelers' leading B&H points scorer is Newcastle-born forward David Longstaff, who played in the first Benson & Hedges Cup final in 1992 and is likely to ice in the last to be sponsored by the company.

This will be Sheffield coach Mike Blaisdell's fifth final, having led the Nottingham Panthers to four between 1994 and 1998.

His assistant coach, Rick Brebant, will become the first player to ice for four different teams in the fixture, while Jesters Wilson is the only Newcastle player to have previously played in the game - for Sheffield in 1995 - with O'Connor as his team-mate.

But Blaisdell says results between the two teams in recent weeks will mean nothing when the puck is dropped tonight.

"While we have had a good run of results against Newcastle, we only have to look back to last year's Sekonda Superleague play-off semi-final defeat to know that league results mean nothing in a one-off final."

Jesters coach Jukka Jalonen is looking forward to the clash.

"It is a great honour to lead a Newcastle-based hockey club to the Benson & Hedges Cup final for the first time in our history," he said.

"We will be the underdogs but by playing a hard and smart game we will have a great chance to beat the Steelers on their home ice.

"Sheffield have the best goaltending duo in the Sekonda Superleague, and they are also playing very well defensively, therefore it won't be easy to score against them so our defensive play has to be on top form.

"We have added a new player in our defensive line-up, Halkidis, and he is a very experienced ex-NHL player who will bring some muscle to our team. I am 100 per cent sure that on Saturday night we will play a game that will be long remembered in these parts."

British Eurosport will screen the Jesters v Steelers live, starting at 5.45pm.

Steelers' team manager David Simms has launched a scathing attack on the detractors who have jeopardised his men's cup hopes.

Steelers have been left fuming by being forced to play eight of their last nine games on the road inside 31 days, with the Sheffield Arena booked up with other events