SHEFFIELD Steelers are basing their drive for honours next year on British talent.
Today the deposed champions announced they had recruited former Sheffield Scimitars, Steelhawks and Rapiers forward Danny Wood - adding him to the core British contingent from last season and new winger Colins Shields. They are also being linked with ex-Nottingham Panther defenceman Danny Meyers.
Wood, 23, comes from a background which suits coach Ryan Finnerty’s philosophy. He left home at 16 to study and play at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, prep school in Minnesota, America.
Wood, who made a guest appearance for Steelers when he was 14, initiated the move back to South Yorkshire himself.
Finnerty said: “This move came out of the blue. We were contacted by Danny who expressed an interest in moving back to Sheffield. I spoke to a few people around the club and all were very complimentary about him and his family.
“I then took some references in the States and heard nothing but good things about him as a player and person.
“The leagues he has played in are very good quality, he will return from the States very well coached” said the Canadian.
“I know he is an outstanding skater with a strong work ethic.
“In Junior he scored very well and in his present team he was more a shut-down guy who had to be good defensively. I’m excited every time I speak to the lad and I think we may have found a gem.”
Wood’s capture helps Steelers challenge the fact they are not exactly brimming with local talent.
Wood remembers watching Steelers as a young fan although admits the experience is a bit of a blur.
“Sheffield was home for me and it’s good to be returning,” he said. “It’s the right time for me after my studies in the States. Walking back into the Arena will bring back memories. I remember playing some games for them before I was 15. To come home now as a 23-year-old and being part of a club trying to win a championship is a dream.
“The team I have been a part of the past two years has struggled, it will be nice to be a part of a winning side with a winning tradition. I come in as an unknown player, I will play as few or as many minutes as the coach wants.
“I’m a good skater and I think a good play maker. I see the ice well. I scored well as a junior and thought that would be my game however in recent years I was used on a shut down line where I learned a lot about playing in both ends of the rink.
“I’m good defensively and have killed many penalties in recent years. I think I’m grounded and I’m ready to be a Steeler. I’m so excited and can’t wait to get started.”