A baptism of fire for new player coach

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Ryan Finnerty knows his debut game as player coach for Sheffield Steelers will be a baptism of fire.

Steelers start at Belfast Giants - some people’s tip to be the next Elite League champions - on September 3. Finnerty said: “They look very strong, it’s going to be a huge test for us.”

Giants are bringing in 24-year-old Canadian forward, Brock McBride, for Elmira Jackals in the East Coast League and Ryan Crane, an offensive defenceman who starred previously at Edinburgh Capitals.

Finnerty expects Giants Nottingham Panthers, Coventry Blaze and his old club Cardiff Devils to be competing to take the title off them.

“I think Nottingham, Coventry and Cardiff have all recruited well. I honestly think the team that can stay healthy will have the best chance this year,..it’s going to be another tight race.”

Arena fans have to wait until September 10 for the first League home game, when Dundee are the visitors.

Former Sheffield captain Rob Wilson will be back at the Arena for August 27th’s Festival of Hockey. The Grand Slam winning goal scorer wasn’t originally expected to be able to make the event due to his coaching commitments in Italy.

But he said: “It is a busy time but the memories are still with me of those six seasons I spent with the Steelers. Despite my connections everywhere else, they are still my team. I loved being the captain of such a great club.”