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Posts Tagged ‘Elite League’

A family welcome

Posted by Dows on August 20, 2009

Last night I decided to make the trek from Leeds to go to the Steelers shirt launch at Abbeydale. Never making the trip before I expected it to be quite a small, almost working mans club based affair with about 100 people.

I love being hilariously wrong.

About 400+ Steelers fans made the journey to see the new kit unveiled and their was a fantastic buzz and atmosphere about the place.

A word about the venue, the were as usual some negativity about location, time, position of Venus in relation to Capricorn etc. but I have to say how impressed I was by the hospitality shown by Abbeydale. Yes queues were long but they well staffed and kept people moving. The beer was well priced and the food was good value. Next year they should probably sell the shirts outside but these are learning’s that you get from a first year at a new venue. Bouncy castle for the kids, plenty of space to run around and plenty of parking equaled a stress free night for most. The night picked weather wise was perfect and seemed well timed so the players could relax a bit and enjoy a drink before the training got crazy serious.

It’s amazing how much you miss a Brummie accent, for all his critics Simmsy made light of the recent naming issues at the club and got people focused on what mattered, how much we all love the club.

Credit has to go to the Steelers for keeping so many sponsors after such an awful financial year, there certainly must be some reason our sponsors keep coming.

Fat Man Models New Away Kit

Fat Man Models New Away Kit

Ok the kit. First the negative – not stitched. I know its cheaper and its better in the economic conditions, I just love the feel of a quality stitched hockey shirt. That aside both versions of the new design have grown on me and the proof was defiantly in the purchase as I bagged myself the new away shirt. However it also makes it more affordable for families and it was pleasing to see so many kids buying a new shirt for the season.

It was great to see the players again, although worrying that Bolibrock isn’t in this country yet.
My mate Jonathan mentioned to me something that struck him as the players were introduced. Kevin Reiter literally did not stop smiling for the entire time he was up on the balcony. I had the good fortune of having a chat with man and first impressions are that he is an absolute top quality bloke. He took time to chat with me and he shared his excitement at having a competent line in front of him. He seems so eager to get started and even decided to pull faces behind my back whilst snapping a picture young Joey Talbot. We should stop making comparisons now about him and Lehman and get on with the business of backing him.

I say this so many times but I just think we have such a great bunch of players in terms of talking to the fans, i had the pleasure of speaking to most of the lads last night (all of whom signed my shirt) and they just have so much patience with fans.

I was keen to get a word with Jeff Hutchins, after the criticism (unwarranted in my opinion and in some cases just disgraceful) of him on the forums I was surprised to meet a man with a clear head, focused on a new season and someone with a cracking sense of humour. He commented about how different the lockers of Sheffield and Newcastle were so different, how he felt that their was one clique in the Steelers and that was the entire team. I’m looking forward to seeing him play, in his own words ‘I put the puck in the back of the net, that’s just what i do.’

All the new boys impressed me, young Morgan seemed eager to learn (although he confessed that the training was very different to preparations at the Scimitars). Dowdy is looking good and I just feel he’s going to be incredible this year.

So well done to the Steelers and Abbeydale for a cracking night. I echo the sentiments of most the players who just couldn’t wait for the season to start.

Signed Shirt

Signed Shirt

Me neither.

P.S 20/20 Hockey… Best. Idea. Ever. (in theory)

Dows

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An Elite Season

Posted by Dows on April 17, 2009

A review of the Steelers Season 08/09

With the Ice Hockey season over in this country for another year I thought I would have ago at reviewing the 08/09 season from a Steeler fans perspective and also looking ahead to the 09/10 season.

What a year for the Steelers. No matter how sceptical you may be about the current state of UK Hockey, it’s hard not to admire the way the Steelers took both the league and playoff titles this year. Something that Paul Thompson, coach of the Coventry Blaze, mentioned at the playoff finals is that the Steelers ‘don’t need to carry anyone’ in their team. That pretty much sums up all the Steelers lines this year. Players that had you worried last year about their inclusion stepped up another gear and those that were signed to excel did just that. There were very few moments for Steelers fan to wince as certain players took to the ice, everyone has simply had a truly excellent season.

Dave Matsos has created a quick and skilled team that moves so well on the break and also created the most enviable defence in the league. Defence’s win Championships. That was personified in the Steelers approach this year.

However the Steelers also had probably one of their cleanest years in terms of being, mostly, injury free this year (which has hampered many of the elite league teams this year, most noticeably Newcastle). With the exception of Sharpy early on in the season, Matsos has been able to choose his strongest side for the big games this season. This is evident in their record against the big teams. Coventry only managed to beat the Steelers once this season, that ultimately cost them the league. Nottingham, although have 3 on 3 record with Steelers this season (excluding the playoff final), dropped crucial points at home.

And we had Jody Lehman.Me and the legend that is Jody Lehman

In some games it was that simple. His, often superhuman, efforts in goal this season have meant that Matsos tactic of absorbing pressure and scoring on the break have been incredibly effective. A record amount of shut-outs in this league have had most people saying he should have been elite league player of the season. However I don’t fully agree.

David Beauregard has been phenomenal this season. 61 Goals and 46 Assists is a ridiculous tally to be making in his first season in the UK. His efforts alone almost won two trophies for the Phoenix this season. Manchester have struggled this year and the fact he has put up these numbers is even more incredible. Jody commented that he had some fantastic guys in front of him to make his record season possible. I don’t’ think David could say the same thing.

But there is one crucial reason why Beauregard won everything this season, defence’s may win championships, but goals sell tickets. The Elite League is desperate to sell Hockey as the fast, sexy, alternative to other sports in the UK. Jody’s season is incredible as a hockey fan but to someone new to the sport it’s a rather boring choice. You don’t go to see Man Utd. play for Van Der Sar, you go for Ronaldo. The Elite League need Sky to increase its hockey coverage, and goals sell.

Now I’m not saying David was my pick, Jody all the way for me. But it becomes more understandable if you take into account the wider sport in general.

I was so happy for Robert Dowd this season, he fully deserved his young player of the year award and he has simply been incredible. I had the opportunity to the briefest of chats with him after they won the league and he is such a well-grounded guy. I’m also biased because, like me, he’s from the North-east and I love to see a local lad do well. I’ll be gutted if he leaves this year for bigger and better things but, like Jody, it may be the best thing for his career.

Speaking of the future, sad to see Basingstoke drop out but not surprising. In my opinion the only way Ice Hockey is gonna fly in this country is if the big cities grab it. We need a London team now more than ever and we could do with a Liverpool or Birmingham based team coming to the fold. The league should be expanding, not shrinking but I understand the concern of the league to not promote any EPL teams, no-one wants to go to Slough…

Hull seem to be doing a few moves in the early transfer market and it would be great I think if they start becoming a real force in the league, their end of season playoff run was pretty engrossing and that can only help their fanbase grow.

Well that’s it from me, feel free to disagree with whatever i’ve posted. I’ve only been involved in the sport for three years now but I’m learning to love it more every day.

Dows

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