Punishment fitted the ‘crime’ for Sheffield Steelers tough guy

Fitzgerald after a punch-up, against Coventry
Fitzgerald after a punch-up, against Coventry
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Steelers’ coach Paul Thompson says he has no grievance over the two-match suspension to defenceman Zack Fitzgerald - an absence which saw Sheffield lose two valuable League points.

The 15-stone American defenceman was suspended after skating into Coventry Blaze goalie Brian Stewart on October 29 - an incident classified as “a dangerous and reckless play” by the Elite League Department of Player Safety. ‘Fitzy’ was excluded from last weekend’s games, including the 0-4 loss at Dundee Stars.

Thompson said: “It was seen as a hit to the head when he was trying to jam the puck home - it actually went in - but there are rules about that, and we have absolutely no complaints about it.

“Was it deliberate? I wouldn’t know, but he said no it wasn’t and I take his word for that.

“When Zack is going to the net there is not a lot of lateral movement - he goes in at full tilt. I have seen him take a goalie and a defencemen of ours in practice!

“When he goes in, he shows no mercy. We want to push hard around the net, but we accept there are rules in place to protect goalies in their crease and respect that and the punishment.”

n Meanwhile, another defenceman, Mike Ratchuk is recovering from gastroenteritis - and blames it on a burger from a fireworks party fast food van.

n Andreas Valdix is seeing a specialist for an unidentified injury but should also be fit for the weekend.