Sheffield Steeldogs have earned a lot of admirers in the way they gave a no-nonsense account of themselves in friendlies against Elite League teams Hull Stingrays and Sheffield Steelers.
Tomorrow comes the serious business of trying to capture the ‘Rose Bowl’ silverware from last year’s holders and League Champions, Manchester Phoenix before the Premier League season starts the following week.
The two-legged contest begins at iceSheffield at 7.30pm with the away leg on Sunday in Altrincham. Games against the club’s main rivals are always physical and end-to-end and this year is unlikely to be no different. The Roses matches will provide a yardstick for Andre Payette’s aggressive forecheckers. The coach says he is determined to give Phoenix a run for their money and bring a title back to Sheffield for the first time.
Extra spice will be added this season as Steeldogs helped deplete Manchester’s Championship team at the end of last season by enticing back Sheffielders Ben Morgan and Greg Wood, accompanied by experienced defenceman Pavel Gomeniuk.
Moving in the opposite direction across the Pennines to Manchester was Ryan Johnson.
Payette said “The player movement over the summer will intensify the rivalry between the two clubs as I know Ben, Greg and Pavel want to beat Manchester as much as I do. While it is always a pleasure to face off against my old coach and friend, Tony Hand, I’m really striving for our team to lift the trophy this year.”
Hand may have lost eight of his trophy winning team of last year, but he always recruits decent players and several mature and skilled skaters from Slovakia and the Czech Republic are now on his books.
Tickets available on door: Adult £9, Concession £6.50, Child £3.50 (U8’s Free) Family £20.