Czech-ing in: ex Sheffield Steeler Martin Latal back in the EIHL

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“I believe in the coach that the team will be even better than last year”

One of the fastest players in Sheffield Steelers' history is to return to the Elite League.

But Martin Latál isn't heading for the Arena where he made his name in British hockey, he's signed on with Fife Flyers.

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The speedy Czech winger's stay with the EIHL seemed to be over in 2023, when his two year stay with Sheffield concluded.

In many ways, he picked the wrong season not to return - the club went on to win an historic Grand Slam.

(Pic: Dean Woolley)(Pic: Dean Woolley)
(Pic: Dean Woolley)

Instead, he played for Cracovia Krakow of Poland, where he averaged a point a game, as well as a short spell with Grenoble in the Ligue Magnus.

Now he has joined another ex Steeler Ben O'Connor in the Scottish hockey scene. O'Connor has penned a  two-year contract with Dundee Stars, coached by former team-mate Mark Lefebvre.

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Latál, 36, said of his move to Fife, who finished eighth last season: “We had a very good interview with the coach, right after the interview I made up my mind – it was very fast. 

"I am looking forward to our cooperation and I believe in the coach that the team will be even better than last year and we will play good hockey. My family is very happy to come.”

Coach Tom Coolen added: “Martin Latal will bring his experience, speed and skill to Fife. He has shown his capabilities in a world-class league like the Czech Extraliga.

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“He was a key member and scorer for the Sheffield Steelers for two seasons. He is a welcome addition.”

The move will be of passing interest to Steelers, who are busy re-signing players from the treble-winning squad.

Speculation is running high that Patrick Watling and Mikko Juusola will return.

A chance for players to showcase themselves in a European tournament will help Steelers' recruitment.

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Last week they found out who they will be playing in the Champions Hockey League, a format which features three home games and three road trips from early September.

The treble champions will host Swedish SHL champions Skellefteå AIK, who won bronze last season, Czechia’s HC Dynamo Pardubice and HC Sparta Prague.

Overseas, they will challenge two Swiss sides, ZSC Lions from Zurich and HC Fribourg-Gottéron, and Swedish high flyers Växjö Lakers.

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