Jeff Legue makes his league debut for Sheffield Steeldogs on Saturday - or should that be Sheffield Underdogs?
His new English Premier League team host elford Tigers, a cash-laden team that has spent big in the Summer.
Telford’s line-up will include the likes of Jason Silverthorn, Max Birbraer, Martin Ondrej and Jonathan Weaver, whom Legue has pitted his wits against for years as a Steeler in the Elite League.
It’s a turn-around for Legue to be playing for a team that isn’t a leader in spending terms - Steelers always compete at the top end in terms of import conditions and salaries. Of that disparity in revenues, Legue said: “It happens in every league, it is one of those things you have to deal with - but I figure hard work from players goes a long way.”
Steeldogs’ blueprint for the future is to rely on grassroots skaters coming through the Academy. But if you add the four imports and home grown veterans who had been with the club for years, the side should be able to compete this term, he feels.
In fact, the goal is for a top-four place, after coming seventh last season.
“We are the underdog going in (against Telford) and it gives you that little incentive to beat them. At Steelers everybody wanted to beat us because we were ‘high paid people.’”
The expectation of a good season at iceSheffield was heightened by a recent 6-1 away win over Manchester Phoenix.“They won the League last year and it’s a big step in the right direction for us” said Legue. “We stuck to the system that was put in place and it worked really well.”
One of the players coming through is 17-year-old college boy Cam Brownley. “Cam has got everything going for him, he can skate and shoot” says Legue, who feels that the gap between Elite League and EPL is not that big any more.
The centreman believes EIHL sides have more controlled game plan, tactics and structures in place. But Dogs were working hard to put those together.
They would also be “entertaining” - his side would again have a reputation of toughness and intimidation.
As for Steelers, he said: “I think they look good on paper, I’ve talked to Jono Phillips and Dustin Kohn and they feel they have a great team so I wish them all the best.”