Brandon Whistle is "not proud" of his first Sheffield Steelers season
Brandon Whistle is ready to answer the question of whether he is good enough to play at the highest level in Britain.
Sheffield Steelers announced on Monday morning that they will have a two-way arrangement, with NIHL club Leeds Knights, to use him for possibly up to 20 games in the EIHL.
The player's ambition is to play full-time in the EIHL, from season 2022-23.
Steelers' coach Arron Fox did not beat around the bush in his appraisal of Whistle, saying the club would "hopefully help him get to" their own top-flight standards.
Whistle, having not played since icing for lower-league Telford Tigers in the 2019-20 season, recognises there is work to be done to rebuild his reputation.
In Monday's Star, the centre candidly admitted he had to drop more than three and a half stone to re-ignite his career.
He was nearly 16 and a half stones in weight when he played for Steelers in the 2018-19 campaign.
With refreshing honesty, he told The Star today: "I am not proud of the season that I had personally in Sheffield.
"Obviously it is hard to produce anything when your ice time is limited but again the shape that I was in played a huge factor.
"I'm super excited to have another chance to play in Sheffield and in front of the Sheffield fans.
"The strides in my game that I have taken over the last two years have been huge and I'm pumped to go and show what I can do and I think it will be a night and day difference."
Whistle, who was at Steelers when his brother Jackson was in goal, said he learned much from the Sheffield team during his first time there.
"I really enjoyed the group of guys we had," he said.
"You could really look up and down the locker room...anyone in that room could have been a good role model for me.
"I would say the three guys for me would have been Evan McGrath, Robert Dowd and Ben O’Connor.
"Benny and Dowdy really did a great job at welcoming me and making me really feel a part of the team," said the 23-year-old.
"Those two guys were always the last to get off the ice and would always help me after practice and help me work on trying to get better every day."
While Leeds will have priority over his availability, Whistle says he'd love to play in every EIHL game possible, to coincide when Knights are off the ice.
"I want to play at the highest level possible," said the Canadian.
"I want to be the best hockey player I can be. I was really excited when I had spoken with Aaron about the two-way deal and I hope this can help me start my journey on getting back into the EIHL full time for next season."
As for now, though, he said he was thankful that Leeds had rubber-stamped the Sheffield arrangement.
The centreman could not find a team to play for in the Covid-hit campaign of 2020-21.
"During the lockdown, for myself, there weren’t very many opportunities for me over in Europe," he said.
"I had spoken to a couple of teams in Finland but that was really it.
"I would have loved to play in the Elite Series but I had a full-time job back home and I was trying my best to come over and play but unfortunately I just wasn’t able to make it work."
Whistle has been working at a golf club with a view to providing teaching lessons in future summers.
Leeds say the training sessions in Sheffield: "will prove key for Brandon and the Knights as he will get ice time with the EIHL players which we hope will benefit the Knights as much as Brandon himself."