Not everyone appears to be a fan of Sheffield Steelers star Matt Petgrave

It's a pity that the growing group of admirers that Matt Petgrave has attracted doesn't seem to include EIHL match night officials.
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The 30-year-old Canadian has put in some dominating performances for Sheffield Steelers since his arrival.

He is a smart, decisive, and consistent defenceman, and Petgrave also loves triggering offence.

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He is joint second on points in the team, along with forwards Martin Latal and Brett Neumann, and is rated as a League 'all-star' by his coach Aaron Fox.

Petgrave's only problem seems to be with referees and linesmen.

He has been booted out of two out of the last four games, for abuse of officials (against Coventry Blaze) and alleged spearing (Manchester Storm,) and is Sheffield's top penalty-minute taker (71 in 11 games.)

Across the EIHL regular league, as a whole, nobody comes close to his penalty minutes tally.

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Last year he had a career-high of 145 PIMS in 34 games with HK Spisska Nova Ves in Slovakia.

Matt Petgrave has impressed in a Sheffield Steelers jersey since joiningMatt Petgrave has impressed in a Sheffield Steelers jersey since joining
Matt Petgrave has impressed in a Sheffield Steelers jersey since joining

It is all very different in the same season, though, when he iced for Czech team HC Dynamo Pardubice when he took 10 PIMS in 13 outings.

Fox is quick to stand up for him.

"He has been on the wrong side of some very, very soft calls against him this year," he said.

"I don't think he gets a call the other way, at all currently, I think there is a frustration there.

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"The spear? We have never seen any video of it, one player in our group saw it as Matt standing there and a guy skated into him. There was no spear at all. You lose a guy for a game for that?

"The other one was something (written complaint) that we sent to the league, there was a high stick in front of the ref and it drew blood, no call...obviously he gets animated and gets thrown out of the hockey game."

Fox described the 200-game former ECHL player as "a premium defenceman, in my opinion probably the best in the league.

"Are there times when he needs to tone it down? Yeah, maybe.

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"But sometimes what makes players great is that edge they play with.

"I am very happy he is on our team and we don't have to match up against him, the other way."

Petgrave will be hoping that Mason Mitchell emerges from injury soon, to make his debut and play alongside him at Sheffield.

The pair were on the same side at Florida Everblades and he has described Mitchell as "a power forward; he can shoot the puck, play physical, strong, skates well, and has a nice little touch on him too.

Meanwhile, Matt Greenfield, who has started the last 13 games for Steelers, is among the top five goaltenders in the EHIL's saves of the week spot.