Category Archives: ice hockey

Puck Plays – Steelers Weekend Review – By Daniel Perry-Plant

The Sheffield Steelers completed another successful four point weekend as they beat the Braehead Clan on Saturday and the Nottingham Panthers on Sunday.

Steven Goertzen was the hat-trick hero on Saturday as he led the Steelers to a 5-4 away victory. Captain Jonathan Phillips opened the scoring four minutes into the game, but they were quickly pegged back by a Jordon Krestanovich power play goal.

In the 13th minute of the first period the Steelers again took the lead with a power play goal from Steven Goertzen.

The second period ebbed and flowed with Goertzen scoring early before the Clan hit back in fine fashion to level before a late Goertzen goal made it 4-3/

With ten minutes left in the 3rd period Steelers defenseman Rod Sarich scored on the power play and the game looked to be dying down until Clan’s Ash Goldie scored with four minutes to go, and making it a tense last few minutes of the game.

The Nottingham Panthers were next up on Sunday as the Steelers looked to close the gap on their rivals, knowing a win for the Steelers would close the gap to five points, and with two more games against the Panthers this was a must win game.

After a scrappy start to the game,  Steelers talisman Jeff Legue scored two goals by the 15th minute to put the Steelers in the driving seat, but what followed was an amazing 76 seconds that saw the panthers score through Brandon Benedict at 16.24, Steelers Ashley Tait scored just six seconds later to make it 3-1 and then Panthers David Clarke scored a controversial goal 17 seconds later that looked to not have crossed the goal line, the goal judge not giving it but referee Mike Hicks allowed the goal to stand.

A goalless second period was to follow and set up a nail biting third session.

A tense third period wasn’t settled until late from time when Scott Champagne danced through the Panthers defence, and found the space to go one on one with Panthers goaltender Craig Kowalski, Champagne pulled off the move and slotted the puck past Kowalski to seal the win.

A last ditch attempt saw the Panthers  pull goaltender Kowalski for an extra attacker, but the man advantage wasn’t enough to break the Steelers and Steven Goertzen scored an empty net goal for his 4th of the weekend.

Speaking in the post-game press conference, a jubilant coach Finnerty had this to say: “We came out and contained when we had to and then create some good offensive chances ourselves. I thought we out chanced Nottingham in quality chances tonight. We hit the post three times.

“Legge (Jeff Legue) gave us the perfect start and then we had that crazy spell when they scored, we scored they scored. I was happy to get in 3-2 ahead then.

“The way we played the next 40 minutes impressed me. Yes Nottingham had some good possession but we limited their chances, their quality chances. Our forwards provided a lot of back pressure, our centre men sank low when they had to in support and when pucks did get through Johnny was again outstanding.

“When we went forward i thought we created. It didn’t surprise me that we scored the all-important 4th goal. Scott did a great job finding the hole and making that play

“Hey this was always a must win game, a four pointer. We won it, we close the gap to 5 and we play them twice more. We put a little pressure on them now. Still a lot of hockey to be played.”

The Steelers are in action against Cardiff on Valentines day in their next Elite League Game.

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Puck Plays – Must Win Double for Steelers – By Dan Perry-Plant

The Sheffield Steelers return to action this weekend buoyant after a comprehensive 7-0 victory over the Dundee Stars in the second leg of the challenge cup quarter final.

The result gave the Steelers an 11-4 victory on aggregate.

Their focus now turns to tonights game in Glasgow as they take on the Braehead Clan. With the Steelers title hopes withering and needing Belfast and Nottingham to slip up in the last few months of the season, nothing short of a victory will do.

Steelers forward Simon Ferguson is sure to be instrumental in any success the Steelers have, and the mid-season signing has scored and impressive seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points in 16 games.

Steelers Head Coach Ryan Finnerty had this to say on Ferguson after Wednesdays challenge cup game:
“I’ve been delighted with Simon since he arrived. It was tough for him, he had a long wait with his visa application and by the time he arrived he hadn’t been on the ice for a while. I think we have all seen him get better and better and become a really important player for us.

“I can use him in all situations, he contributes and scores. He is a reason we will have more success this season.”

The Steelers return to the Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield, on Sunday as they look to put a dent in arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers title bid.

The Panthers haven’t won the league title since 1956 and the Steelers will hope to keep it that way.

With the Panthers in the driving seat four points clear of second place Belfast and seven clear of Sheffield this is a must win game for the Steelers.

Coach Finnerty is known for his systematic build up play, and he will certainly want his players to stick to the game plan and play the kind of intimidating hockey that rattled the Panthers in the Steelers romping 9-4 victory over them earlier in the season.

Panthers tend to play a smooth passing and quick play, looking to hit teams on the break and exploit any space that is given to them.

They possess players like David Ling who can create a goal from nothing, so the Steelers will need to make sure the opposition is closed down effectively.

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Puck Plays – Steelers Need Focus – By Dan Perry-Plant

The Christmas period of games kicks off this weekend for league chasing Sheffield Steelers who are currently sat in third place in the league, battling with Belfast, Nottingham, and just below them Coventry.

The Steelers take on Hull on Saturday, and then face Belfast on Sunday at the Sheffield arena.

Steelers boss Ryan Finnerty has called for his players to signal their intent as they arrive at the “business” end of the season.

“It gets no bigger,” he said.

“This is the time when you need your big guns to come to the front and perform. For me Johnny (DeCaro, Steelers Goaltender) is key.

“He has been brilliant for us in recent weeks. I love how he is playing right now. We need that form to continue. Johnny is a man for the big moments, the big games and these coming are huge for us. He has to be our best player.”

This is high praise for the Steelers goaltender who came under fire last season, and in the pre-season for his patchy form and some fans felt he didn’t care enough about the club to ever be a successful goaltender in Sheffield.

However, DeCaro has hit back this season with a string of impressive performance and has won over the majority of the Arena audience.

The Steelers will be travel on boxing day to take on fierce rivals Nottingham panthers, and the return fixture will take place just a day later in Sheffield, and the Steelers will need fan legend Jeff Legue to find his form, something which hasn’t often troubled him, if they are to get any points from those games.

The whole of Sheffield knows that the race for the title could be over by the 27th of December, with three months left in the season, if the Steelers don’t pick up the majority of points over this busy Christmas schedule.

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Puck Plays By Dan Perry-Plant

Top British forward Colin Shields has left the Sheffield Steelers this week citing personal issues for leaving the Yorkshire club.

Shields joined the Steelers from French side Morzine-Avoriaz, but the Belfast born player has struggled to find his form in the league this season, despite being the Steelers second top scorer.

The entire elite league will be looking to snap up the hot shot winger as the Christmas period approaches but he is in no rush to make a decision on his future after activating the release clause in his contract.

“I didn’t feel myself and happy because it has never really worked out for me.
“That is nothing against anybody; I am not pointing the finger, I just felt the time was right to move on and cut the ties.

“There weren’t any issues in the dressing room or with the city; it is just one of those things.

“It is hard to describe; it wasn’t working and I didn’t want to drag it on and be a distraction for a team involved in a title hunt. I never settled and found my place in the team,” he said.

Steelers had hoped for 30 goals a season from Shields and in fact he was on his way to that.
In 30 games, he scored 14 +16: a point a game.

“I feel as if I had a good stretch to begin with and then a dip came on strong and then everyone in the side was struggling to score,” he said.

“But I was the team’s second top scorer so I can’t have been that bad?”

“I am disappointed it has come to this and have no plans at the moment.

“But I have no regrets coming to Steelers; I came with the greatest of intentions but just couldn’t find my rhythm. I’m not in a rush but there are limited jobs available for British guys of a certain level and it is late in the season, but after the New Year I’ll start to look around.”

Any British club however will have to seek permission from the Steelers before they can sign the British forward, and this could lead to some possible trade proposals, with Marc Peacock of the Belfast Giants a possible target of the Steelers as they look to bolster their squad.

Belfast Giants have refused to comment on speculation.

The Steelers entertain the Dundee Stars Saturday at the Sheffield Arena as they look to get back to championship form.

The Stars feature forward Sami Ryhanen who scored a hat trick against the Steelers last time out.

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December Weekend of Sport

This weekend sees some great sport grace the calendar once again as Olympic year 2012 draws to a close.

The usual football festive season continues with all 92 league clubs in action, weather permitting, and a cracking Manchester Derby in the Premier League on Sunday.

In gymnastics, the World Cup takes place in Glasgow this Saturday with  some of the best GB Olympic medalists on show as they look to make it another home venue to be proud of.

England continue to play their third test against India as they look to make it a 2-1 lead after having previously been 1-0 down in the series. in the series so far, captain Alistair Cook has become England’s highest ever centurion.

In rugby union, the Heineken Cup continues to throw up its big matches with Sale taking on Toulan on Saturday as the group stages reach there conclusion.

The UK Championship snooker draws to a close this weekend too and with favourites out in the early rounds, like Judd Trump and John Higgins, a new title winner could be made from Ali Carter, Shaun Murphy, Mark Davis and Mark Selby.

There are the regular season ice hockey matches, the indoor season for athletics is starting to take shape with many regional competitions and there could be five race meets, including Aintree and Wetherby if the weather holds out.

You will be able to catch the review of the football, snooker, cricket, ice hockey, and gymnastics all here next week as well as our regular column of winter sports and the breaking sports news.

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Puck Plays – Finnerty Shuffles Pack – By Dan Perry-Plant

This week, in the British Elite Ice Hockey league, has been a busy one for Sheffield Steelers Head coach Ryan Finnerty.

A total of three changes have been made to the Steelers roster as the Steelers coach looks to strengthen his side for the last four months of the season.

NHL winger, Tom Sestito of the Philadelphia Flyers has now left the Steelers as he looks to return to America. Tom asked to be released from his contract in the run up to the Christmas period, after joining the Steelers while the NHL labour dispute raged on. The NHL is no closer to resuming work, but Sestito decided it was time to leave the Steelers.

Sestito later used twitter to vocalise his feelings about the Sheffield club:

“Just want to thank the Steelers organization and the fans for having me for this period of time during my career. It was a pleasure and I wish nothing but the best outcome for you guys. I made a lot of good friends in that locker room and hopefully they bring home a championship,”

Speaking to the clubs website Steelers Coach Ryan Finnerty had this to say on Sestito’s departure:

“Well firstly we are sorry to see Tommy leave us. He made a hell of an impression in such a short period. I think he will be remembered here for a long time by both his team mates and the supporters.

“We though can’t stand in Tommy’s way and he has several other options should the NHL remain locked out. Tommy is going to return home on Wednesday and I would think head back over to Europe before too long if the lock out continues. There are some big money teams looking for guys right now who can pay Tommy well.

“Tommy was up front with us all along. He has more than played his part for us and we can’t thank him enough and have nothing but good things to say about the big man.”

The Steelers have also announced that young British forward Danny Wood has also left the club with immediate effect. Wood has joined English Premier League team Sheffield Steeldogs and fans will hope that the step down will help Danny to progress his career and return to the Steelers once his game has matured.

Wood joined the Steelers in the summer as he returned from the USA where he attended university. He was seen as a top prospect before he left for America and made his Steelers debut at the age of 15 before leaving for America.

With import defenseman James Jorgenson ruled out with an injury until March, Head Coach Finnerty then announced the signing of powerhouse defenseman Chris Frank.

Frank played for the Cardiff Devils last season before moving on to the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL, however due to the NHL lockout, Frank found himself fighting for one of six defensive spots with 11 competitors in the same position.

Frank has welcomed the chance to return to Great Britain and the player nicknamed “the tank” is sure to make a huge impact with the Steelers.  Frank has a reputation for been a hard hitting player who can also play a good defensive game. Coach Finnerty proclaimed his delight at signing Frank, whom he had looked to sign in the summer:

“We finally got our man. We spoke all last summer with Chris trying to bring him here. I think he enjoyed his time in Cardiff but wanted to give North America one last go. With the lock out and the politics back there that decision didn’t quite work out.

“We are lucky to be in the position where a player like him becomes available at this time of the year. With Jim Jorgenson out until late February we needed another guy at the back. Timing worked out just right with Tommy Sestito leaving us, it meant we had the space and the budget to bring another guy in.

“Chris will be bringing us toughness of course but he is also a very good player, he is mean and nasty and I will be looking for him to continue with this style whilst with us.

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Puck Plays – British Elite League – By Dan Perry-Plant

This weekend throws up some more interesting ties as the Elite Ice Hockey League heads towards the Christmas period.

Following a four point weekend in Scotland, the Sheffield Steelers return to the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday night as they take on the Cardiff Devils.

Both teams will be bolstered by new signings, as the Steelers will hand a debut to new import forward Simon Ferguson, who is expected to arrive in Sheffield in time for the game. Ferguson joins after leaving Ljubljana Olimpija HK in Austria around a month ago. He has played 334 games in the American Hockey League, and is renowned for both his scoring and penalty taking sides of his game.

The Devils have re-signed GB international defenceman Mark Richardson, who has previously played 241 games for the welsh outfit. Richardson had recently left the Devils for Arlan Kokshetau in Kazakhstan at the start of the season, and although he had a good start to the year, decided his style of play was more suited to the Elite league and the Devils were quick to snap him up.

Saturdays game will be followed by a return fixture in the Cardiff Bay and both teams will be looking to take all four points on offer. Recently key players for the Steelers have been Tom Sestito, Shawn Limpright and Steven Goertzen, and these import forwards seem to have shaken off the rust in the Scottish double header, and will look to carry the momentum into this weekend’s fixtures.

The Devils will be looking to import forward Mac Faulkner who has set the league alight this season with a rich vein of scoring form, and NHL lockout signing Paul Bissonnette who has brought a strong game to the Devils.

Elsewhere in the league on Saturday, Hull travel to Scotland to take on the Braehead Clan, and Coventry will travel to Dundee to face the Dundee Stars.

On Sunday, Braehead will travel to Coventry to take on the Blaze, Hull will travel to Edinburgh to face the Capitals and Nottingham will head to Dundee to take on the Stars.

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Puck plays – British League – By Dan Perry-Plant

The Elite Ice Hockey League continued after the international break this week and the early news was that Sheffield Steelers had signed 29 year old winger Simon Ferguson, who was earlier released from his contract at Ljubijana in Slovenia after he couldn’t settle in the city.

Steelers Coach Ryan Finnerty was delighted to have signed his man, and finally completed his roster of import players. He also had an eye on the fate of NHL player Tom Sestito who is currently with the club while the NHL work stoppage continues.

“Simon Ferguson is the perfect signing for us. He is hungry to come into a situation and play out the year.
“He is a hardworking, hard-nosed player who will bring a great work ethic and style of play to our team. I see him in the mould of a Tylor Michel.
“He is another that will bring intensity and energy to the side. He will add offence, but more importantly add to what we already have here as another very good, solid hockey player. He is a perfect fit and has a great hockey resume with much top quality experience,” he said.

The only midweek game was the Dundee Stars travelling to Sheffield to play an out of form Steelers team. Dundee took the early initiative and took an early two goal lead through Matt Baxter and Tristan Harper.

The Steelers looked to be on the back foot as the period closed and the few Stars fans that had made the trip could smell an upset.

The second period would bring a reverse of the first as the Steelers finally found their stride, with GB man Colin Shields scoring and then Steven Goertzen levelling the score in what was turning into a feisty affair.

The third period saw the Steelers take an early lead through Captain Jonathon Phillips, but the stars struck twice in 6 minutes to take the lead back through Pat Ryan and Sami Ryhanen. With two minutes left in the game the Steelers pulled goaltender Geoff Woolhouse for an extra skater, and this gamble paid off as the Steelers then scored 45 seconds later through crowd favourite Tylor Michel.

This took the game to sudden death 4v4 overtime, and the Steelers quickly piled on the pressure, which paid off, as 2.17 into the period forward Shawn Limpright was attacking the goal and Dundee Stars goalkeeper Nic Riopel un-sportingly kicked the goal off its moorings.

This lead to a penalty shot for Limpright who dispatched the shot past Riopel and sealed the win for the Steelers.

This Saturday will see a high tempo game between the Nottingham Panthers and the Cardiff Devils. These games always send sparks flying as two physical and hardworking teams meet at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham. The key men to watch will be Nottingham’s skilful forward David Ling and for the Devils will be Mac Faulkner who is second in the league for overall points scoring.

Elsewhere, the Braehead Clan take on the Sheffield Steelers, and Fife Flyers travel to the Planet Ice rink to take on the Coventry Blaze.

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Puck Plays – GB Joy in Japan – By Dan Perry-Plant

Great Britain Ice Hockey team sealed a place in the Olympic final qualification group last weekend.

This is the biggest result in GB’s history since their famous 1936 Olympic Games gold medal in Germany.

GB started the tournament with a penalty shot loss against Korea, who proved to be a pacey and hardworking team, which more than made up for their lesser skills. The game ended 4-4 in regulation time, with GB’s goals coming from Craig Peacock, David Longstaff, Ben O’Connor and Colin Shields in a game GB lead by 2 goals twice.

There was no score in overtime, so the game went to best of three penalty shots, GB failed to find the net on their first two attempts and Korea took full advantage to sneak the points.

The next test was a grudge match against favourites Romania, who were looking to take their first win of the tournament, but GB planned to throw a spanner in the works and they did, as Leigh Jamieson scored just 3.17 in the first period.Colin Shields then doubled the advantage at 18.32 to wrap up the first period.

The second period was goalless as GB tightened up the defence against the Romania onslaughts. The game was sealed as winger Robert Dowd scored with eight minutes remaining in the game to complete the famous victory. Goalkeeper Stephen Murphy celebrated a 17 shot shut out as the team celebrated their first victory.

The results on Saturday set up a winner takes all grudge match between hosts Japan and GB, meaning that if GB won in regulation time they would be through to the final round of qualification.

The game started well for Great Britain as they scored twice in the first period for the second night running.  Craig Peacock scored a powerplay goal at 9.59 to take the lead. Ben O’Connor scored just 30 seconds later to double the advantage.

The second period again proved to be a quiet affair with  no goals scored. The third period started with GB knowing that holding on for a final 20 minutes would signal their greatest achievement in modern day hockey, and confirm their place in the final qualification group. Japan though took the initiative and scored four minutes in to the final period to make the game 1-2 in GB’s advantage.

The last 15 minutes of the game made for tense viewing as GB and Japan vied for the advantage in a close run affair, but GB managed to hold on and take the full points, booking themselves a trip to Riga, Latvia.

The four-team tournament takes place from 7th-10th February 2013. GB are currently ranked 21st in the world and will be the lowest seed in their group which includes Latvia ranked 11th in the world, France 14th and Kazakhstan 17th.

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Weekend Round Up

This weekend has seen some thrilling action already in the world of sport, so lets take a look back at some of the highlights.

In football, Arsenal drew an amazing game with Fulham 3-3, Manchester United came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Aston Villa and Manchester City won 2-1 at home to Tottenham Hotspur with a late Edin Dzeko goal.

Moto GP’s final Grand Prix was won by Dani Pedrosa who took advantage of a massive crash for world champion Jorge Lorenzo in Valencia.

Two time world champion Casey Stoner finished third in his final GP race as he retires from the sport.

In Rugby Union, England demolished Fiji 54-12, Ireland fell to a second-half comeback from South Africa and France beat Australia 33-6 for their first win over them in seven years.

Elsewhere GB men’s ice hockey team moved into the final of their qualifying tournament to make it into the Winter Olympics after beating Japan, and Andy Murray will face Roger Federer for a place in the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 arena.

Rory McIlroy claimed the race to Dubai money list prize after he finished third in Shanghai, adding to his PGA tour money list winner crown too.

In athletics, The IAAF Cross Country permit races began today as the same time all national cross country competition leagues hotted up as the trials for the GB team take place at the end of the month.

Tonight, there is also action as Chelsea face Liverpool in the Premier League and England’s rugby league side play France in their autumn international final.

You can catch more sports news here at The Sporting Week throughout the week as we give you the best sports news by young writers.

 

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