ICE HOCKEY: Matt lured back to Sheffield by other signings

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MATT Stephenson has cut short his world-wide search for new employers and will be returning for a second year at Sheffield Steelers.

The 28-year-old Canadian had a decent year in his debut campaign, arriving after a brace of seasons at AHL side Texas Stars.

It seemed he might leave in the summer, despite being scheduled for a second academic year at the University of Sheffield.

Several European clubs, including one in France, showed an interest in him.

But he says: “It’s flattering when clubs show an interest in you and as a professional I had to examine what was out there. Ryan Finnerty (coach) and the club were brilliant and let me see what was about.

“Ryan has been in that position before and I thank him for that.

“The problem was that every time I turned on my lap-top I saw that we had made another great signing and I was just thinking I can’t leave the Steelers I want to be a part of that winning team.

“I enjoyed my first year and think the second one will be even better with team that we are putting together.

“I’m sure we all learned a lot from the way last season ended. We will be better I am sure.”

In January, Stephenson admitted form problems and said the side had become “lackadaisical.”

Finnerty is intent on getting more steel into a six-man defence.

He is still seeking another import blue-liner.

The coach said: “I want to be big strong and water-tight at the back end next season so it will be six we sign. Matt is an American league D man, he knows the League and can be a force. He thinks this team can for fill his ambition to win a championship.”