Ben Churchfield's move could trigger opportunities for Curtis Warburton at Sheffield Steelers

Goaltending has been a key influence behind the way Steelers have soared five points ahead of their rivals at the top of the table.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 11:09 am

In the last three games, Sheffield have had two clean sheets and just a single goal was conceded in the other match.

Barry Brust and Rok Stojanovic seem to be going from strength to strength as a partnership.

Brust has a growing fan club at the Arena while Stojanovic seems to revel in most away games.

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If there has been one casualty during their progress, it has been Ben Churchfield.

He'd originally signed with the club on the understanding he'd be Brust's back-up, along with some domestic competition from Curtis Warburton.

But Stojanovic has more than earned his right to stay.

Aaron Fox, the team coach, recognises that Churchfield, or any goalie, wants game time.

Barry Brust and Ben Churchfield in warm-up. Pic Bob Westerdale

But Brust's delayed arrival in the UK, (visa problems) had been the start of a problem that would effectively curtail Churchfield's chances.

Stojanovic had to be brought in for a trial period and did well while Brust was finding fitness and form.

That sounded the death knell for the initial plan of rostering just Brust and Churchfield.

"Barry needed a bit of extra time that's just the way the situation went out," said the coach.

Ben Churchfield guards his net.

"I wasn't going to move Rok, he was going to stay...he had played too good.

"There just wasn't a path forward for me to guarantee Ben games and I totally understand his point of view in that he wanted to play."

Fox said Churchfield could have played for Leeds Knights in the NIHL in two games after regular goalie Sam Gospel was injured.

"Initially he was ok with it but maybe he looked into the market a little bit and maybe had an opportunity elsewhere and wanted to pursue that.

"He's a 25-year-old, grown man who has to make his own decisions. I have no issue with the situation."

So when all the injured import skaters are back, will it be likely that either Brust or Stojanovic will be rested with Warburton returning as backing up?

"Yeah there's probably a good chance of that happening," said Fox.

"He practices with us all week every day and then goes there (Bees IHC) at the weekend. I know that he got off to a pretty good start and the other goalie there has played more games lately, they are playing the hot goalie and he's played well, so I am sure he will get some more games there soon enough."

Churchfield could end up in the Southern Professional Hockey League in the southeastern United States.

He won't be making any comment about his situation. He told The Star: "Under contractual obligation, I’m not doing interviews at this time."

Steelers say they did not agree to any restrictions on him talking to the media when they terminated their arrangement with him.