Sheffield Arena golden days can return on Saturday

Ron Shudra - Sheffield Steelers icon
Ron Shudra - Sheffield Steelers icon
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Sheffield Arena re-opens for Steelers fans on Saturday after repairs to a leaky ice pad.

Fans have missed cheering their side at a venue that remains a jewel in the British hockey crown. Cardiff Devils are the visitors

Here, Dave Simms look back at some golden moments at the House of Steel:

n Fights: Jim Hibbert. With mayhem breaking out on the ice as Steelers played Basingstoke, Hibby found himself at centre ice trading punches with Bison’s goalie. Unseen at the Arena before or since.

Then there was Brad Voth, a Cardiff Devils bad boy. Voth was, at that time, invincible but Steelers captain Dion Darling let go the biggest right hand ever thrown in the Arena. It rocked Voth, his knees buckled and 6,000 raised the roof.

And who remembers 5ft 9 Tim Cranston fighting giant Mike Ware?

n Characters: Big characters have entertained 3.5 million fans since 1991. Ron Shudra was the first superstar. If a big moment was needed Shudra delivered. Slough Jets 5-4 up with 90 seconds left, it was Shudra who tied the game and then won it with six seconds left. 8,300 there- Rocket was the toast of the town.

Tommy Plommer would always fight bigger guys and after a scrap with Fife’s Frank Evans both players were binned. Plommer ended up fighting Evans inside the box, another Arena first and last.

n Big moments: Steve Nemeth has scored the most goals for Steelers (356) and his game winner against Nottingham Panthers in their first visit to the Arena set up a rivalry that remains today.

Steelers first Arena goal was scored in 1991 by Phil Lee, other goals on the clubs opening fixture were scored by Paul Thompson and Ron Shudra. Ken Priestlay is best know for scoring five goals for the Steelers in Nottingham the night they won their first league championship (1995.) A month before that Priestlay scored a hat trick against Panthers in a fixture that got the Steelers back into the title race. The Stanley Cup winner’s last goal started behind his own net, skating the length of the ice.

Months earlier in Manchester Steelers Paul Beraldo received a nasty blow to his knee by for Storm’s Corey Spring. Beraldo was out for months and as luck would have it, just a week after his return Storm came to Sheffield. The Arena was expecting blood and Spring would receive punishment from the whole Steelers team. It came to a head when Beraldo found Spring by the Storm bench, a riot followed, players deserted the benches and Scott Allison (Steelers) and Rob Trumblay (Storm) left the penalty boxes to join in.

Even the coaches came to blows; Storm Coach Terry Christensen went to the edge of his bench to confront Sheffield’sMike Blaisdell. The plexi glass separated the coaches, or so Christensen thought. Blaisdell, wrapped one arm around the plexi and swung a left that caught the Storm coach by surprise. Another arena first- now bring on this weekend!