Cup games can make young Sheffield Steeler a better player

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Sam Jones' temporary new boss is aiming to turn the defenceman into an even better player by the time he joins the Sheffield Steelers' fold.

Jones signed for the EIHL club last July, but has never been near Sheffield Arena because the top flight was locked down during the epidemic.

Instead, the skater hooked up with Telford Tigers, who are current participants in the Government-sanctioned NIHL Spring Cup.

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It was a little like joining 'Telford Steelers' - with the roster boasting Yorkshiremen Cole Shudra, Kieran Brown, Brad Day and ex Steeldog Ashley Calvert.

Jones, flying in from Canada, was a late arrival, which meant head coach Tom Watkins hasn't fully appraised him yet.

Watkins, the former Coventry Blaze regular, said: "It is difficult to make too many observations on Sam, he only practiced once ahead of last weekend after landing the previous Wednesday.

"He’s a player that wasn’t really on our radar for this series but he reached out as he is looking ahead to the World Championships and Great Britain’s preparation.

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Sam Jones in action last weekend for Telford. Pic courtesy of Steve Brodie.Sam Jones in action last weekend for Telford. Pic courtesy of Steve Brodie.
Sam Jones in action last weekend for Telford. Pic courtesy of Steve Brodie.

"He’s still a young guy (23) but he seems very mature, is organised and you can see is someone who thinks about his game.

"He has got a good skill-set, good size, (6ft 2ins) moves well and is a guy that wants the puck on his stick...he does like to carry the puck or join the rush.

"Sam likes to play on the offensive side of the game and has the tools to do so but to do this at the elite level there is a lot of weight on the decision-making aspect of when and where to join the play. Is it the right time, is it the right situation?

"These are aspects of the game he will improve with more time and experience," said Watkins.

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Team-mate Cole Shudra. Pic courtesy of Steve Brodie.Team-mate Cole Shudra. Pic courtesy of Steve Brodie.
Team-mate Cole Shudra. Pic courtesy of Steve Brodie.

"We’ll give him some rope but I’ll be careful to ensure his offensive instincts don’t overtake his defensive responsibilities.

"He’s only with us for six weeks but I’m sure he’ll make a positive impact here in Telford."

Watkins said he was pleased with the contribution of all the other players that have a connection with the Steelers.

"All the guys have done well, obviously Brad has been here a full season and was outstanding (2019-20 season) winning the league and cup double and was the league's Most Valuable Player in my opinion last season.

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"The rest have integrated themselves into the team group nicely. I like the attitude and work ethic of them all."

Saturday sees Jones and his side host Bracknell Bees, while Steeldogs take on Romford Raiders.

Games are live streamed.

Keep up to date with all the latest from Sheffield Steelers via our dedicated Twitter account @TheStarSteelers, or join our Steelers Facebook group.