Dave Simms column: Thanks for all those memories and trophies, Frank

Frank Doyle
Frank Doyle
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Steelers goalie Frank Doyle will pack his bag for the final time next week leaving Sheffield and returning back home to North America.

He will leave with not only many friends and two championship medals but also knowing that he did the job he was brought in to do. Also in his briefcase will be a hard earned MBA from the University of Sheffield.

Doyle was a quiet, thinking, diligent goalie. There aren’t too many of those about.

Goalies are normally a little crazy; I give you Jody Lehman as a point of reference. Not Frank Doyle though. Interview him and he would carefully digest the question before giving you a truly considered answer.

A hand injury robbed Frank of completing his last season. But as he did the season before in helping the Steelers win the play offs he was there at the start of the difficult league campaign that ended in glory.

Whilst stand-in keeper Josh Unice took much of the credit come the run-in it was Doyle who earned those early points that gave the team the foundations to push on.

Doyle was a stand out goalie. Thank you Frank. Now go and use that MBA, and I hope take fond memories away from Sheffield.

I’m sure many of you saw the media release from IHUK last week regarding the new proposed Under 20s league. IHUK have decided that the way forward isn’t as we in Sheffield had hoped. England and the EIHA will run a 20s league and Scotland will do likewise with a play off final between the best sides at the end of the year.

Sounds good in theory but all it does it continue the “Sport for all” message. Now don’t get me wrong I am all for inclusive sport, up to a point. There has to come a time when the best push on and play the best more often. Train with the best players and more importantly the best coaches. The Under 20s development we had discussed seemed the best of both worlds. The under 20s leagues would continue as they are now but the best kids from various clubs would get together more often and play the best kids from other regions.

Sheffield and Nottingham were to work together to aid this development along side Hull, the Sheffield Academy and the Sutton Sting. Imagine the competition from all those kids in that area to come and train as Steelers with the likes of Paul Thompson and Darrell Hay. Think how they would push one and develop right under the noses of Elite league coach from Nottingham, Hull and Sheffield.

The extra ice time, the more competitive games and coaching had to be the best way, or so we thought.

I don’t know what happened between the meeting two weeks ago in Newcastle where this was seemingly agreed and the decision of IHUK last Friday to go back with the sport for all option.

It’s a real shame. Maybe behind the scenes things will change going forward, we will wait and see.

For two weeks now I’ve been writing that the Steelers were close to tying up their last couple of signings, and they are. The same two players as well. Paul does have a plan B, C and D should they not come to fruition but he is keen on landing his first choice targets. With working visa applications and work permit approval to seek it is now becoming a little more important that these two final signatures are secured sooner rather than later. Training camp commences early in August and that just eight weeks away now.

That training camp of course involves two home games against Braehead Clan on the 15/16th August at ICE Sheffield.

The event is sponsored by the Holiday Inn Royal Victoria, without them in fact the whole training camp would be all but impossible. Therefore please let me make a blatant plea for a little giving back to the Holiday Inn Royal Victorias manager Mark Vater who is this weekend swimming two miles in aid of the Hotels aim of raising £25,000 for Sheffield Childrens Hospital “Build a Bedroom appeal.

Mark is a top man and the Holiday Inn Royal Victoria have been long standing partners of the club, please help him out https://www.justgiving.com/MarkVater-HIRoyalVic

Those two games in August will sell out at iceSheffield and will be a huge part of Paul’s new look side gelling together ahead of the Champions Hockey League fixtures. T

he Champions league is a competition that Frank Doyle would have embraced, prepared for in the most diligent way. He would have looked forward and relished the challenges of facing the best that Sweden and Finland could have thrown at him. The 2015 training camp will be the first without him in the last three seasons. It will feel very different without you Frank.

Safe travels and good luck.