Flying Finn quits struggling Steelers

Ilpo Salmivirta leaves the Sheffield Steelers
Ilpo Salmivirta leaves the Sheffield Steelers
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Goal-shy Sheffield Steelers lost one of their import forwards today.

Finnish forward Ilpo Salmivirta quit the club for a more lucrative contract in France.

Salmivirta was not a player who the club expected to score a lot of goals - in fact he didn’t manage it in eight attempts - but the side can hardly afford to lose any wingers at the moment.

Club owner Tony Smith has ordered his coaches to replace Salmivirta, who was considered a “spare import” towards the end of his brief tenure in Sheffield.

And it is pretty likely they will be looking for someone with a goal or two in their locker - the side has scored only twice in each of their last three games.

Jeff Legue hasn’t scored in his last four outings, and the early promise exhibited from Nate DiCasmirro and Rob Sirianni has dried up in front of goal.

Only Stefan Meyer, Rob Dowd and Jonathan Phillips have been on song lately.

Stand-in coach Marc Lefebvre was sorry to see 29-year-old Salmivirta leave.

“He came in as cover for us, but has been a lot more than that. He came in during a difficult time and did very well for us. We wish him well in France” he said.

* The Elite League has secured a live television deal with Premier Sports.

The deal includes a live game once a week on a Saturday night and also involves coverage of the play-offs.

Coverage, which will be fronted by Aaron Murphy, begins on Saturday 23rd November at the Skydome as Coventry Blaze host Belfast Giants.

It takes the amount of ice hockey on Premier Sports to 45 hours per week.

Elite League chairman, Tony Smith, said: “The Elite League is thrilled to have live coverage on UK television. We would like to thank Premier Sports for joining us as a media partner to provide this fantastic coverage for supporters.

“We hope that fans support the commitment and investment from Premier Sports into the Elite League.

“The league believes this will help grow our fan base across the UK and Ireland.”

Richard Sweeney, general manager of Premier Sports, said: “We are delighted to be able to support UK ice hockey by covering the Elite League.

“With 15 games a week from the NHL, NHL Tonight and now a primetime Saturday evening game of the week from the UK, we can now officially say to fans that we are your home for hockey in the UK.” Games will be available on Sky channel 428, Virgin channel 551 and around the world via the Premier Player (www.premierplayer.tv).