SHEFFIELD Steelers are in mourning this weekend after the tragic death of the 11-year-old daughter of a former Canadian import.
Ryan Christian, daughter of forward Jeff, who played for Steelers in 2004-05, died this week from a cancer so rare it is said to effect only three other youngsters in the United States.
Steelers’ owner Tony Smith, who is organising a minute’s silence at tonight’s game against Cardiff Devils, said: “This tragedy puts everything into perspective. Hockey is only a game and family comes first in situations like this. Jeff was one of ours and our club has his family in our thoughts.”
Ryan’s mum wrote on Facebook: “After three years of fighting this terrible disease, our beautiful princess warrior is now at peace. Jeff and I were with her when she passed. She was comfortable, she did not suffer. We saw peace and calm in her face for the first time in months. Jeff and I were so lucky to be her parents.”
Meanwhile, Steelers must overcome a form dip after losing their last two games. Following the 4-2 defeat at Dundee on Thursday, coach Ryan Finnerty said: “I’ve never been so disappointed in these players. We had full control of the game at 2-1 – they didn’t touch the puck in the first 10 minutes of the third period. We just switched off for a short period and got dominated. I can’t believe the way we fell apart. We made two crazy errors and just let them back in and didn’t respond. Jeff Legue takes a stupid penalty and we can’t complete the kill.
“I’m just speechless that these guys can play that way in such a big game. I’m confident we will turn the tie around. I still have confidence in the group. They have shown for the majority of the season how good they can be, on Thursday they for just 10 minutes how bad they can be.”
n The Star understands Finnerty has been fined £500 for comments he made about referees, this week.