A barbed welcome for ‘clumsy’ Zarb at Arena

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A HOT reception may lay in store from ice hockey fans at the Sheffield Arena tomorrow.

The visit of Dundee Stars to Sheffield Steelers will mean the first return to the South Yorkshire venue for American Chris Zarb, the player who put Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips out of the game with a bad knee injury, in September.

Phillips and some of his team-mates initially believed Zarb’s “kneeing” challenge to be a dirty one. But since then Phillips has reconsidered and now simply believes it was a ‘clumsy’ incident rather than an intent to harm.

Steelers’ player coach Ryan Finnerty said: “I imagine some of our crowd will be waiting to show their displeasure with this player. But we will not be going after him, there is no point.

“We move on and our focus has to be on picking up wins - we have to see the bigger picture.”

That’s a reference to Steelers’ league position. They are third, five points behind leaders Belfast Giants.

Nottingham and Giants play each other tomorrow, their only match of the weekend.

An away victory could see Sheffield could on level points with second place Notts - a formidable morale booster after defeats to Panthers and the loss of Phillips and Mike Ramsay to injury. While Dundee are next to bottom and have four points from an available 22, Finnerty will not be underestmiating their challenge. “Their performances has not matched their talent. They work hard are well coached and their team is a lot better than their record shows” said Finnerty. “They have not been getting the results but there is no way we can just turn up expecting to win.”

Neil Clark, concussed after being struck on the chin against Cardiff last Sunday, is expected to be back.

Clark, who missed games with an ankle injury, is still the club’s top goals scorer with eight from eight games.