SHEFFIELD Steelers’ head coach Ryan Finnerty insisted his team were more than a one-man show as they came from behind to defeat defending Elite League champions Belfast Giants on Sunday night.
The 2-1 victory at the Motorpoint Arena was perfectly-timed for the under-pressure Steelers boss, after he saw his team slip to a fourth defeat in five games with a 4-2 reverse at an impressive Fife Flyers on Saturday night.
That game marked the debut of NHL signing Tom Sestito who, while scoring a goal in Kirkcaldy, made much more of an impact against the league leaders last night.
It proved an eventful night for the 25-year-old Philadelphia Flyers forward, who announced himself to the home fans in style with a ‘Gordie Howe hat-trick’ – scoring a goal, an assist and getting into a fight all in one game – a combination named after the legendary Detroit Red Wings winger of the 50s and 60s.
“It was a must-win night for us,” said Finnerty. “We played it simple, didn’t get away from our systems and everyone saw the kind of team we can be
“Of course Tom will get the headlines and rightly so, but other guys dug deep. Steven Goertzen was excellent and Lee Esders again showed why we rate him so highly.”
Craig Peacock put the Giants ahead on the powerplay in the fourth minute, but that was cancelled out by Sestito’s second goal for the club at 11.28, scored while Belfast’s Sam Roberts was in the penalty box on a cross-checking call.
The game-winning goal arrived just 19 seconds into second period when Sestito set up Steve Goertzen for his fourth of the season.
Sestito’s fight came in the 38th minute when he locked horns with Belfast’s Greg Stewart. Not surprisingly, the latest addition to Steelers’ ranks enjoyed his home debut.
“It was a fun night,” said Sestito. “The fans gave me a great reception at the start of the game and I’d like to think the whole gave them something back by the end of the night.
“I loved it out there. Scoring was a bonus, we worked that powerplay very well and I was just on the end of it. On Goertzy’s goal, I just made the pass.
“I love being here and I’ve been made to feel most welcome. The guys in the room are great and the fans were amazing.”
It was Sestito’s 22nd-minute strike which had given the Steelers the lead at Fife 24 hours earlier before the home side roared back to take a 3-1 lead thanks to a second-period hat-trick from Kris Hogg.
Jeff Legue made it a one-goal game again at 49.15, but Fife secured two points thanks to a 58th-minute strike from Steven McAlpine.