Sheffield Steelers 5
Fife Flyers 0
Sheffield Steelers 6
Hull Stingrays 0
ONLY at Sheffield Steelers’s mad world of ice hockey could you lose your top scorer to a FOOTBALL injury.
Canadian winger Neil Clark’s silky soccer skills at the curtain end of the Arena stage, an hour before face off, saw him jolt his ankle on an uneven floor board.
He limped off home, with a scan now likely, joining an injury list featuring Jonathan Phillips, (knee) Chad Huttel (concussion) and player coach Ryan Finnerty (back).
When you are down to the bare bones, it’s not normal to ice your back up goalie.
But Finnerty clearly thought Fife, who lost 7-2 at home to Belfast Giants the previous night and had scrambled just one point from five league games, would still be tame enough opponents to blood second-string Geoff Woolhouse.
Woolhouse’s first period must have given him all the confidence the 26-year-old needed.
Despite his side’s lack of numbers, he only had one mildly serious attempt on and he dealt with Mike Hamilton’s shot on his blocker.
With Steelers icing just eight forwards and rotating two centremen, it didn’t look like there would be an absolute glut of goals from the home side either.
But they took a lead at 15;17, when Colt King zapped a shot from the left circle past Edinburgh-born Blair Daly.
Daly had an outstanding period in goal for the Scots in the second, yet still yielded to two goals.
He had to withstand a barrage of shots from Sheffield forwards and d-men alike, holding out for 16 minutes of the session, until Ashley Tait smashed a shot high across him into the roof of the net.
Daly, just 23, had no protection, either, when Jeff Legue skated in from the right and planted the puck home.
At 3-0, you wondered what score would have racked up had the injured Steeler foursome been available. Tom Squires got in the act in the final session, scoring after good work on the boards from Mark Thomas. And it was 5-0 when Rod Sarich’s centre blue line shot found the rigging.
But the period will be remembered for the spine-jarring hits on the boards.
Jason Hewitt reacted angrily to being boarded by Steven McAlpine and dropped the gloves. While he came off second best against the bigger man in the scrap, he’d made his point.
Ashley Tait squared up to Jamie Wilson after a similar hit came his way.
The weekend’s home games ended with a pleasing two shut outs and 11 goals - although the quality of the opposition cannot be overlooked.
Tait ended his goal drought with a 1+2 showing in Saturday night’s annihilation of Hull.
Four of Sheffield’s goals were off rushes - straight from the chalkboard to the ice.
With goaltender John DeCaro posting his first shutout of the season (23 shots) Sheffield did the damage in the first and last periods, both won at 3-0 canter.
The game was 90 seconds old when Mike Ramsay opened the scoring with a powerplay goal and that was followed by Tait was credited with the second strike, although it was Finnerty’s. Clark added a third.
Tait netted and Steelers’ fourth at 45.52. Ramsay and Ryan Finnerty completed the rout, which coach Finnerty regarded as their best performance to date.