Simmsey column: reasons to be cheerful at Sheffield Steelers

Zack Fitzgerald.  Picture: Dean Woolley
Zack Fitzgerald. Picture: Dean Woolley
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Is there light at the end of the tunnel - at last?

I’m typing this after getting off the phone with head coach Paul Thompson, he sounded bright and almost cheerful.

Colton Fretter

Colton Fretter

Strange when you consider the injuries, suspensions and amount of games we have recently had. Cheerful isn’t a word normally associated with my best mate, I was slightly stunned when I heard him.

The reason for the smile is that Zack Fitzgerald skated and he wasn’t expected to do that for a couple of weeks. He wanted to play on Wednesday against Edinburgh. So as well as the return of Miika Franssila, Fitzy too was due back in the line up.

Colton Fretter had skated as well.

Don’t be surprised to see him in the line up on Saturday against Guildford at the Arena. God how we have missed Frets. I keep my fingers crossed that at 7pm on Saturday I announce “and wearing number 67 we welcome home The Great Colton Fretter.”

That leaves Big John Armstrong and Robert Dowd. Both are working so hard off the ice to get back as early as possible, Dowdy might only be another couple of weeks away. His off ice training schedule right now is off the charts so determined is he to return early.

The news of returning players lifted the whole dressing room. It lifted Paul, it lifted me and I hope it lifts you as well. The hockey Gods haven’t been looking kindly on us recently so it’s about time they have had a change of heart.

n PredictorBet - get used to hearing that name. They are the new sponsors of the Play Offs. Their product doesn’t go live until March 1 and their big formal launch will be at the play off finals in Nottingham in April.

PredictorBet (billed as a new concept in sports prediction betting) are as excited to be linked with the EIHL as we are to be with them. All 12 league clubs met up with their representatives on Tuesday. It’s a deal for the next three seasons -a serious bit of business by both sides.

It’s an exciting opportunity for the league, the EIHL has worked hard in securing commercial partners. Expect PredictorBet to be the first of several new names you hear linked with the sport.

Talking of the Play Offs, they are almost SOLD OUT. That’s easily the earliest I can remember. Maybe it’s because there are now 12 teams in the league and their fans are all after tickets. The original blocks for Steelers fans sold out early but more general release tickets will become available so keep trying the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham for your ticket.

n Fredrick Vestberg, the smooth skating former Steelers forward will be at the Arena on Saturday. The Vestberg family are over here for a few days, what a reception Freddie will get before the game.

It’s the start of several former players making a return to say hello. Next Wednesday for the game against Cardiff (21st - all tickets just £5) Grand Slam Steeler Kent Simpson will be popping in. The week after championship goalie Marek Pinc will be stepping into the ice to give us a wave. What a character Pinky was.

Then for the final league game against Nottingham the man who gave us a happy summer will be flying in. Guillaume Desbiens comes back to the Arena where he scored one of the clubs most remembered games.

Keep your eyes open for a special night with Desi - we are looking at opening up the Arena club in the VIP area so we can hold a pre game meet and greet with the big man.

Reasons to be cheerful, see you at the game on Saturday.