Rob Wilson has tipped Sheffield Steelers to be amongst the mix for the honours at the end of the coming Elite League season.
The former Steelers defenceman, once courted as a possible coach at the Arena, brought his German team Nurnberg Ice Tigers to the city last weekend.
His big budget DEL team won twice, but only by one goal in the second game.
“They will be challenging again. Thommo has done a great job here and they’ve got a really good team” said Wilson.
“You saw on the Power Play they move the puck around well. I watched them in the finals (in Nottingham) and I am sure they will be there again next year.”
He described the Elite division as a really good league.
“You see by the quality of players that are coming to the League; I am quite impressed with it.”
Wilson complimented Steelers coach Paul Thompson, who has won championships in the UK with both Coventry Blaze and Steelers.
“Thommo is a really good coach, I worked with him with GB, he knows his hockey and is a hard worker.
“He is very organised and does an excellent job and that is why he won a League here (Sheffield) and a Play Off already in two years.
“He proved how good he is not just in Coventry but coming back to Sheffield and doing it again.”
He said there was great British talent in Sheffield’s squad in Davey Phillips, Ben O’Connor and Jonathan Phillips while Rob Dowd was “as good as anybody offensively.”
Meanwhile Steelers have injury issues piling up.
Matt Marquardt is seeing a specialist on Thursday after sustaining an upper body injury in the final shift of last Saturday’s game against Tigers. Mathieu Roy was also carrying an injury and John Armstrong may be rested next weekend, because of another issue.
Picking up injuries in pre-season is frustrating, with Thompson trying to establish a rhythm in the team, particularly the first line.
*Kyle Tomlinson, the teenage Sheffield finalist in this year’s Britain’s Got Talent TV show, will open Saturday night’s “Banner Raising” celebrations as Steelers play Manchester Storm at Sheffield Arena. “We can’t wait to welcome him on the ice” said Operations Manager Shaun Smith. “We are hoping for 6,000-plus in the building to listen to Kyle sing before the game.”