STEELERS’ coach Ryan Finnerty certainly won’t feel like being Mr Nice Guy if Belfast Giants sign Colin Shields today.
Shields’s contract with Sheffield expires today and, although there is a gentlemen’s agreement that one player cannot go from one Elite League club to another without all-party consent, there seems nothing to legally stop Shields tying up with Steelers’ opponents and victors of last night.
“If he goes there, then this will be a Bush (unprofessional) League,” said Finnerty. “It will open the door for any club to poach any player at any time. I need a goalscoring right winger. Should I be the better person and not approach anybody? I’m not known for being the better person - so draw your own conclusion!”
Steelers, who were beaten by Giants last night, have been close to replacing Shields with an import, but not close enough.
“We’d like to get someone in quickly, but it is difficult this time of year. We have a budget and we can’t just buy somebody out of a contract. We have agents looking around though; we’ll see what we can do.”
Last night, Steelers outshot Belfast 14-7 in the first period, yet the visitors took the lead at 16:31, Darryl Lloyd completing a move from Adam Keefe.
A few seconds later Chris Frank took a Cross Checking minor penalty - but fortunately the home penalty killers were able to deal with threat of going two down before the first interval.
Steelers’ territorial advantage told at 24:37 Simon Ferguson scoring his first for the club on his fifth appearance, from Drew Fata and Steve Goertzen, on a delayed penalty.
But the Irish went ahead again at 41.45 Keefe again setting up Lloyd to make it 2-1 Giants.
Bottom of the league Hull Stingrays tried niggle Steelers out of their stride on Saturday.
The home side sustained 78 minutes in penalties, most of it in a moment of madness near the end when Jason Hewitt was checked to the head from Kurtis Dulle.
Steelers were under orders not to brawl; coach Ryan Finnerty having last night’s Belfast match in mind.
Matt Stephenson scored for the third Saturday running - with Stingrays forward Tom Squires sitting out a tripping penalty.
Dominic Osman netted on the power-play for Stingrays. Another Steelers d-man Fata and centreman Jeff Legue made it 3-1 at the first interval. Sheffield were not quite as assertive in the middle session, with Osman reducing the lead.
But Ashley Tait scored on the Steelers’ seventh power-play opportunity for some breathing space. The last 13 seconds of the game saw a total of 96 minutes of penalties handed out by referee Michael Hicks. Hull took 64 with Dulle receiving a 5 plus game for checking to the head, Osman 5 plus game for roughing, Ryan Hand a 10 minute misconduct and Jason Silverthorn a double minor for roughing. The visitors took 32 minutes with Hewitt going on a 5 plus game for roughing, whilst Chris Frank got a roughing major.