Respectful Sheffield Steelers prepare to welcome back former skipper Steve Goertzen

Steve Goertzen
Steve Goertzen
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Call me an old romantic if you will, but one of the things I love about hockey is the respect factor that is historically shown by clubs, to those who have achieved great things - either in our sport or for our clubs.

I love how banners are proudly hung from the rafters of our buildings saying: “Hey, look at us and what we have all achieved together, these great championships.”

How we honour those individuals like Shudra, Cranston, Plommer and Priestlay. Those who helped deliver the best of times for our club.

In Sheffield I love our tradition of welcoming back former players the first time they play for their new team at the Arena. Do you know where I got the idea from, of bringing that tradition to Sheffield?

Of all places, Nottingham.

And many years before the Steelers were even thought of. I was with Solihull and we had signed a player called Jamie Crapper. Many of you may remember him when he was a referee, but Jamie had played for the Panthers and had been released - and, as luck would have it, his fist game for the Solihull Barons was in Nottingham!

When they introduced Jamie on to the ice the announcer said... “and we never had a chance to say thank you to number 18, Jamie Crapper”. The old barn in Nottingham stood, and roof was raised.

The memory of that was saved in the grey matter and when I had a chance to do the same in Sheffield, I introduced that tradition - and it’s stayed for all these years.

That’s why this Saturday, I expect a huge reception for Steven Goertzen - last year’s play off championship captain.

Steve was a Steeler of just two seasons, but is a solid man and quality individual who made an impression on all he came into contact with, on and off the ice, whilst here.

A man who represented himself well as a Steeler and as a student of the University of Sheffield, where he obtained his MBA whilst playing at the Arena.

Goertzen should proudly look up into the rafters this Saturday when his new side, the Coventry Blaze, skate in to town for their first game at the Arena this season. There he will see a banner representing a championship he played a huge part in winning.

The hockey traditions will ensure that before the puck is dropped, Steven is well received and thanked.

But after the puck is dropped he is a Blaze player and our attention is turned to those soldiers who wear the orange and white Steelers uniform. Our men.

Steelers have an incredible chance to top their difficult Challenge Cup group this weekend. After playing Coventry, they will play their final round robin qualification game in Hull the following evening.

A first-place finish will ensure they meet the fourth-placed side from the other cup group (looking more than likely to be Dundee) in the quarter finals.

Gerad Adams’ side are still playing short handed, and injuries to Messrs Dowd, Sarich and Morency will concern the Steelers coach.

He knows that he can’t keep winning game after game with such a short bench and runs the risk of more injuries by overplaying those he has on the ice.

It’s a credit to his team that their excellent cup form has continued and that they are favourites for that first place finish.

A win against Goertzen’s Blaze side on Saturday would be an incredible achievement, and one well deserved.

Slowly but surely we are seeing what Adams’ Steelers side is all about - and, to be honest, I think we like it.

n Steelers v Coventry Blaze at the Motorpoint Arena this Saturday, face off 7.00pm.