Top of the hit list may be Belfast Giants’ David Rutherford, whose blind-side hit on Yared Hagos on November 20 was condemned as “cowardly” by Sheffield coach Paul Thompson. Next may be Cardiff Devils’s Joey Haddad who escaped the referee’s attention after leaving Levi Nelson with a facial wound on Sunday.
It will be interesting to see what happens when the teams collide next: Belfast are in Sheffield on December 10 and Steelers return to Cardiff the night after.
The injuries are a major source of frustration for Thompson, who has criticised officiating in three recent matches. At Cardiff, Thompson said Guillaume Desbiens was interfered with off the puck as he tried to close down a Cardiff scorer. “It should have been a minor penalty. I don’t know what the referee isn’t looking at.”
He was also bewildered that a goal judge was able to sprint to the timekeeper’s box to influence the disallowing of a Steelers goal.
“That’s another new one, because in Edinburgh the other day the goal judge banged the glass and said to one of our players: ‘Go and get the referee, that didn’t go in.’ So we went and told the referee and the he still gave the goal he didn’t even confront the goal judge.
“Levi Nelson gets cross checked to the face, (by Haddad) he gets five or six stitches in his lip, he’s in a bundle in the corner, they get a six on five they score from that, that’s not called. We start thinking crikey it is not going to be our day.”
After Sunday’s defeat, Thompson was approached by Cardiff’s ex NHLer Patrick Borderleau, who said he’d never witnessed refereeing like it.
However, Thompson accepts his own team, while performing well despite injury absences, has some disciplinary issues.
“Frustration gets to Dessy (Desbiens) and we have got to be better there. We know that; he gets thrown out of the game, so we are three centremen down. The Fitzy (Zack Fitzgerld) takes a stupid penalty at the end of the game...”
*Steelers have confirmed they are “tying up some loose ends” in their attempt to bring defenceman Jace Coyle back to Sheffield.