SIMMS ON STEELERS: Referee got it wrong

Tom Sestito hit on Hull's Andy Ward
Tom Sestito hit on Hull's Andy Ward

Yesterday’s news that the EIHL had reviewed and overturned the match penalty awarded against Tom Sestito was of course welcomed by everyone at the Steelers – and rightly so.

Last Sunday’s incident had generated much controversy and many pages of debate on fan forums up and down the land mainly because the player in question, the big, nasty Sestito had hit the little guy from Hull – Andy Ward. The picture shows the huge discrepancy in size.

Fair play to the lad Ward, he was knocked out cold and the brilliant work carried out by Steelers, Stingrays and iceSheffield medical staff is to be commended. The reality was that the penalty was wrong. Referee Paul Staniforth said it was a hit to the head, it clearly wasn’t and fortunately for the Steelers this was shown by many different angles of video footage and still photographs issued by the club. In many other rinks Sestito would have been found guilty as they don’t have the same video set up for games as we do in Sheffield.

Staniforth, who called the incident, was 20 feet away with a clear view, yet got it wrong – not good enough.

The Steelers worked tirelessly to defend their player, fortunately the evidence we provided as they reviewed the matter was beyond question. The league did the right thing reviewing and Simon Kirkham was correct to take his time and diligently going over the evidence before dismissing the original penalty.

What it means is that all being well Sestito lines up for the Steelers in their two matches tomorrow and Saturday in Belfast against the Giants. I say all being well as the NHL owners and players association have meetings today and tomorrow to see if they can end their dispute and return to work. Five minutes after the NHL call off the lock out Big Tom is on the plane back to Philadelphia.

The Steelers need a split in Belfast, if they fly home on Sunday with two points then the weekend will have been a success. Less than that and Ryan Finnerty will be disappointed, more than that and I will buy the Guinness and see you boys on Wednesday for training.

Shawn Limpright had a big weekend. Finnerty moved him to centre as he needed more out of him and got an instant reaction. Against Cardiff he was more involved while in the incredible win over Coventry 24 hours later Limpright raised his own bar again and then on Sunday in the team’s third game in as many nights many felt that Limpright was the glue that held the Steelers together in the all important last 10 minutes of the game.

Limpright has to keep that good work going this weekend, Finnerty needs him on the board, contributing, scoring and leading. What a weekend this could be for the Steelers ... either good or bad.