How Sheffield Steelers beat rivals to the punch yet again

If the latest Steelers' signings Mason Mitchell and Matt Petgrave have a great season in Sheffield, there may be some wistful glances from EIHL rivals Nottingham Panthers, Cardiff Devils and Belfast Giants.
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Once again this Summer, Sheffield have signed players that were of interest to other Elite League parties.

Scott Allen, another Canadian winger, has already been recruited by coach Aaron Fox, despite interest from the three title rivals.

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But Allen - like Mitchell and Petgrave - were wooed by the case presented to them by Sheffield's management.

New Sheffield Steelers signing Matt PetgraveNew Sheffield Steelers signing Matt Petgrave
New Sheffield Steelers signing Matt Petgrave

Actually, Champions Belfast had been trying for two consecutive Summers to sign Petgrave, so Fox's recruiting skills were certainly evident there.

Asked if other teams had been vying for his signature, Mitchell said; "There were a lot of teams interested..there were lots of recruitment (opportunities) for me.

"I have been trying to get over to Europe in the last couple of years, Covid ruined that but now I am looking forward to coming over.

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"I had interest from Cardiff and Nottingham, and a couple of different ones, but decided Sheffield was the best fit for me and best fit to win the championship."

New Sheffield Steelers signing Mason MitchellNew Sheffield Steelers signing Mason Mitchell
New Sheffield Steelers signing Mason Mitchell

Mitchell who played last year for Cincinnati Cyclones, Idaho Steelheads (ECHL) and once for AHL side Stockton Heat said winning a title was paramount to him.

"Growing up I was in the mix for a lot of them, I was in the Washington Capitals' organisation (2018; Hershey Bears) when they were Stanley Cup champions.

"I know what it takes to win it is just a matter of putting the pieces together and actually pursuing it."

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Petgrave, who is also desperate to lift silverware in his first EIHL campaign, said he had received one or two offers at the start of the off-season.

Sheffield Steelers coach Aaron FoxSheffield Steelers coach Aaron Fox
Sheffield Steelers coach Aaron Fox

"I thought I'd play the waiting game hoping that would work in my favour" he said.

"By doing that, I closed a couple of doors, maybe, that I shouldn't have.

"In the end, Sheffield came round and my agent thought it would be a good decision to join them, especially with the reputation the organisation and the city have, everything with the fans, it seemed like a great fit.

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"Belfast this year had shown some interest. In the previous year, it was Belfast, Cardiff and I think Manchester (Storm) I think."

So was the offer from the reigning champions a tempting one?

Petgrave explained that he had missed an attempted message via Facebook from the Northern Ireland club.

By the time he discovered their continuing interest: "The ball was rolling pretty deep with Sheffield and I thought it would be disingenuous to Sheffield to take it, so I focused on Sheffield. Communication with Fox has been pretty good."

Steelers now have three full lines of forwards and five defencemen on their books.

Meanwhile, Cardiff are the first team to complete their initial roster for the 2022/23 campaign.