Sheffield Steeldogs teenager lines up against old club Bracknell Bees
When Steeldogs take to the ice against the Bracknell Bees on Saturday, there might be one Dog having some 'awkward' feelings.
Tom Relf, 18, is in his first year as a Steeldog and moved to Sheffield in September when he started his studies at Hallam University.
Until then he had played all of his hockey for the Bracknell club, including being a regular part of the Bees team last season.
With limited resources at the club, Coach Smital gave several youngsters a lot of ice time and Tom was one who grew from that experience.
The young defenceman finds it strange lining up against his boyhood club saying: “I don’t like playing against Bracknell. I felt really awkward the first time I went down there – I’d never been on the away team bench before! I’m getting used to it now and obviously Sheffield is now my team, the team I want to win for.
"You always want to beat your old team and I’m enjoying the expectations of everyone knowing who I am and it’s nice to play against your old friends”.
Despite them being bottom of the league, the Bees stung the Steeldogs a couple of weeks back and Tom is frank about why; “We just didn’t turn up. We thought it would be an easy game. We were at home, we hadn’t had a four hour bus journey – we thought we could just turn up and play and win. We just didn’t get going”. A 3-0 defeat showed the danger of such complacency.
Tom recognises the strengths of his former side; “they have a short bench but they are very hard working, very gritty.
"They come ready to fight for everything, they play hard each week. They have a good team – many people underestimate them but if you take them lightly they will punish you. That happened to us the other week and lost the game.
“On Saturday we know what to expect. They will be passive; they’ll want to break us down. We have been working on that in training and we will show up ready and determined to win. We need the points to maintain our top five ambitions”.
The Steeldogs will all be fired up by last weekend’s disappointing losses and will want to get back to winning ways – and Relf will have the extra incentive of earning bragging rights over his old team mates.