ICE HOCKEY: Double delight Steelers have dignity and honour

Minute Silence - Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze 15/9/12
Minute Silence - Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze 15/9/12
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Coventry Blaze 3 Sheffield Steelers 4 (Sunday)

Steelers 7 Coventry 5 (Saturday)

STEELERS confirmed their place at the top table of Sheffield’s sporting community with a heartfelt tribute to Hillsborough Disaster victims.

Before Saturday’s Coventry match, rink announcer Dave Simms showed that while ice hockey may be a minority sport, it has a generosity of spirit that football should learn from.

“Twenty three years ago our Sheffield sporting community was hit by the worst disaster in British sporting history,” Simms declared.

“This week, there has been revelations of a Hillsborough Disaster cover up and criticism of some newspaper coverage. One newspaper, our sponsors The Star, has been applauded for its independent exposure relating to the Disaster. The city of Sheffield remembers the Hillsborough 96.”

A minute’s silence was then immaculately observed by nearly 4,000 fans.

At a time when Sheffield needs it, Steelers had illustrated that our city has people with compassion, integrity and honour.

After the tribute, Arena fans settled back in their seats to watch a sizzling, incident-packed first period, with six goals and a fight in which Drew Fata decked Gerome Giudice.

Coventry’s Dustin Cameron, who scored a hat-trick last time on the same ice, opened the scoring but Ashley Tait tucked home a rebound to level. Shawn Limpright’s deflection was then equalised by Mike Schutte.

But Fata’s heavyweight bout put wind in the Steeler sails. Jason Hewitt caused chaos at the net to allow Tylor Michel to score and Jonathan Phillips made it 4-2.

That should have been the template for success.

But goaltender John DeCaro was beaten by a near post goal for the second time of the evening - a saveable wrist shot from the right wing by Brad Leeb and four minutes later the visitors were level, at 4-4, via Shea Guthrie.

Then Cameron rashly clipped Mark Thomas’ helmet-less head as the defenceman skated back to the bench earning Sheffield a power play. It took them just five seconds to go ahead again, through Jim Jorgensen.

How Ryan Finnerty must have hoped his team would not again surrender momentum.

The omens were good when Michel’s astonishing rink-length skate made it 6-4, the second time they had been two up. But within four minutes Guthrie nipped behind Mark Thomas to, again, narrow the advantage.

Tyler was not be denied though. With two minutes remaining he put the game out of Blaze’s reach with his hat-trick.

Last night, the same teams fought out another explosive free-for all.

Greg Leeb got Blaze off the mark, but Tait, again, scored against his old employers.

Schutte and Fata exchanged goals to tie up a fast and furious first period.

Jeff Legue has been having a thin time of it infront of goal, lately, but he scored to make it 3-2 for Steelers at 23:56, after Tait had done the spade work.

While Dale White made it 3-3, the bigger issue was Legue being ejected, along with Benn Olson, for high sticking.

After that, neither team could find a winner in regular time. But Colin Shields did what he was brought in to do, scoring not only the winner, but securing a four point weekend.

Finnerty concluded: “We dug in. We played well. We held the Blaze to limited chances early on.

“Our Powerplay was outstanding I think we were six for 10 over the weekend

“When we lost Legue we lacked a light spark but the guys just kept working.

“These are four big points and we carry some momentum.”