SHEFFIELD STEELERS: Icy relationship engulfs hockey pair

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THE RELATIONSHIP between Sheffield’s top two clubs may need thawing out before the new season starts.

The decision by city-born winger Tom Squires to reject a two-way loan arrangement between his Steelers employers and the Telford Tigers - in favour of joining Sheffield Steeldogs instead - will hardly have strengthened links between the city pair.

While the association between the clubs’ two coaches Ryan Finnerty and Andre Payette is amicable, the link between the clubs at any other level seems fractured.

Steelers thought Squires, like Rob Dowd, Mark Thomas and Jason Hewitt in their earlier days, would benefit from cutting the apron strings of his home city. He disagreed.

Steeldogs cannot believe their luck at landing him and find it strange that Steelers were prepared to effectively off-load a home grown talent.

Steeldogs, however, set up a two-way arrangement with Steelers’ Elite League rivals Hull Stingrays last year - which made a statement of its own considering iceSheffield is slapshot away from the Arena.

Steelers’ spokesman Dave Simms said: “We work with Sheffield’s junior programme and will be increasing that involvement next season. But as for the Steeldogs, they seem to have made their decision on where they stand when they tied up with Hull.

“We made Tom the best two-way contract you can get at this level.

“But we have seen players before who want to take the easy option of staying in their home town and playing with their pals.

“On a different scale Ryan Finnerty was kicked out of his family house at 15 to propel him into junior hockey and it worked for him. Dowd had to come to Sheffield to learn his craft and has now signed for Swedish club Troja-Ljngby. Thomas and Hewitt went to London to boost their chances and have been very successful since.”

Steeldogs may have cosied up to Hull, but they are determined to brand themselves as Steel City ambassadors, with the number of local skaters.