SHEFFIELD STEELERS: Heavyweight Tom shows Steelers his NHL power

Tom Sestito - Sheffield Steelers v Belfast Giants 14/10/12
Tom Sestito - Sheffield Steelers v Belfast Giants 14/10/12

TOM SESTITO carved himself a place in Steelers’ ice hockey folk lore last night.

He chalked up what’s known as a Gordie Howe hat trick; where a player scores a goal, records an assist, and gets in a fight all in one game.

The Italian Canadian is the first ever player to come into the Sheffield roster direct from the NHL - and coach Ryan Finnerty will be hoping the industrial action which is keeping him away from the world’s best league will continue for the rest of the campaign.

Steelers had to endure a disappointing start against the League leaders.

They went behind to a Craig Peacock goal on the power play at 3:01, after Sestito’s pal Steve Goertzen went off for a slashing minor.

Giants hung on to their lead until the 11th minute, when another Power Play goal restored parity; Sestito finishing off from Jeff Legue and Matt Stephenson.

The towering presence of Sestito turned provider, along with Jason Hewitt, for a go-ahead goal from Goertzen, just 19 seconds into the middle session.

Then, if that wasn’t enough, he thought he’d engage in a gruelling scrap with opposite winger Greg Stewart.

When the game wasn’t about Tom, it was about Sheffield protecting their lead for almost 40 minutes and almost improving the lead. The closest they came was an empty net shot at the death which struck the post from James Jorgensen.

n Sheffield’s bus-weary travellers felt every bump in the road in the unsuccessful 600-mile round trip to and from Fife on Saturday.

It is, perhaps, too early to talk about Steelers losing ground in the title race. And Fife is a notoriously difficult rink to play in.

But the truth is that a Championship team - one that sets itself apart from the rest - has to get at least a regulation time point from a trip to Kirckaldy. Yet Canadian left wing Kris Hogg put a spoke in Sheffield’s wheel, with a middle period hat-trick.

He first equalised Sestito’s debut goal, scored a second, then netted on a power play caused by Sestito’s penalty.

With 11 minutes left Jeff Legue snatched one back as Sheffield piled on the pressure, but Fife’s Steven McAlpine was the only other scorer.

Assistant coach Neil Abel said: “Tom was man of the match both nights - and richly deserved it.”