Steelers and visiting Manchester players potentially risked serious injury playing on sub-standard Arena ice, according to Sheffield owner Tony Smith.
He was incensed by the condition of the surface for the first Arena game of the season, a 5-4 win over Storm. He also had a robust exchange of words with Arena staff because of the “chaotic” scenes as stewards tried to get almost 8,000 fans inside.
The game was 30 minutes delayed and there were concerns over where ice meets the boards. “If it had been any other visiting coach other than Ryan Finnerty, the game would have been abandoned” claimed Smith.
“The edges were atrocious - very dangerous. If a player gets a blade stuck then it could be catastrophic - serious ankle injuries, for example, can happen in situations like that.”
He also said patches of the ice were blighted by contamination of the concrete below.
Smith said not enough exterior doors were open to allow the huge fan-following in - and it was only when he complained that extra resources were thrown at the problem.
He’s meeting SIV officials on Tuesday asking for assurances that next Saturday’s game would not be similarly disrupted.
Smith said: “We are a professional organisation and we have to expect support from our landlords. It unacceptable that our product is demeaned like this.”
Storm had finished Saturday’s game strongly and served an early warning on their home ice when Mike Hammond hit Brad Day’s post on Sunday. Manchester’s Chris Auger opened the scoring and within 14 seconds they’d added another from Dallas Ehrhardt.
A blistering Ben O’Connor shot from the blue line rocket reduced the arrears at 21:18. Eventually, the teams were on level pegging, courtesy of O’Connor’s second. But Auger, who’d scored twice at Sheffield Arena, repeated the feat to make it 3-2 for Storm. Under-strength Steelers blew the chance of getting back into it again when Hammond scored Storm’s fourth of the night.