Sheffield Steelers, Nottingham Panthers, Murrayfield Racers and GB legend fighting illness

Alex Dampier
Alex Dampier

At the going down of the sun, some 8,137 fans and two sports teams at Sheffield Arena paid their Remembrance respects.

Ice hockey clubs, laying their rivalry aside, sharing a united sentiment.

Steelers, wearing poppies woven in to their jerseys, put on a respectful pre-match show. And in sporting terms, a pretty devastating one when the action started, running away with a one-sided game, 8-1.

But fans on both sides should today spare a thought for a man ingrained in both clubs’ histories.

Alex Dampier, who coached both to trophies, is facing his own battle.

The former Great Britain head coach is suffering leukaemia and has moved from home in Thunder Bay, Canada, to hospital in Cleveland, USA, to undertake a bone marrow transplant.

Alex Dampier - second most successful Sheffield Steelers coach.

Alex Dampier - second most successful Sheffield Steelers coach.

Damps,’ 65, is undergoing chemotherapy - but is bearing it all with the strength that typified his time at both great clubs.

He said: “If anything good comes from this its the message to get your regular medical check-ups...and don’t think it can’t happen to you.”

On Saturday, Dampier’s old teams met in their first League encounter of the season.

In reality only one team turned up. How the old fox - a seminal figure at Steelers from 1993-8 - would have loved to have coached a win like that.

Damps - a born winner

Damps - a born winner

Yet Damps would have also been disturbed by the lack of will and endeavour from undermanned Panthers.

Mathieu Roy scored twice. Colton Fretter, two, Jesse Schultz, Markus Nilsson, Rob Dowd and Ben O’Connor helped themselves to the rest.

Panthers could at least console themselves by spoiling the shut-out - Brad Moran scoring in the very last second.

On Sunday, Steelers travelled to Dundee, where a week ago they crashed 4-0. they were behind to Brett Switzer’s goal on 91 seconds.

Mathieu Roy celebrates a goal against Nottingham

Mathieu Roy celebrates a goal against Nottingham

But the champions were on level terms when Mike Ratchuk scored a goal he’d threatened all weekend.

Another d-man, Anders Franzon and Dundee’s Kevin Hart, traded goals in an 85 seconds.

But John Armstrong edged Sheffield ahead at 34;11.

Switzer grabbed his second at 45;03 before Fretter’s third point of the night put Steelers in pole position only for Justin Faryna to make it 4-4.

Penalty shots settled it; Armstrong and Andreas Valdix scoring for a 5-4 win, and a step closer to leaders Cardiff Devils.

It was a weekend of triumph won by hard work and courage of convictions - the Dampier way.

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