In the orange corner: light heavyweight Sheffield Steeler Robert Dowd!

No one can be sure yet whether evergreen Robert Dowd will have the ‘C’ badge woven into his Sheffield Steelers’ shirt this season.
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But if the coach’s eventual decision goes his way, the letter won’t just stand for captain.

It’ll also stand for light heavyweight ‘champion’ of the league.

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Dowd may not possess all the outward appearances of an ice hockey warrior but anyone in his weight division would do well not cross him, says coach Aaron Fox.

Robert Dowd in fighting form Pic Dean WoolleyRobert Dowd in fighting form Pic Dean Woolley
Robert Dowd in fighting form Pic Dean Woolley

“Pound for pound toughest in the league, there’s no question about it,” beamed Fox after seeing the 741-game Steeler dismantle Nottingham Panthers’ skater Westin Michaud, at Sheffield Arena last Saturday night.

“I think sometimes he looks slight because he is only 5ft 10 ins or whatever he is, but he is strong as can be, and when a littler guy thinks: ‘Ok here is someone my size that I can go with’ it is usually the wrong decision.”

The latest bust-up came when Dowd and his American opponent tangled in Panthers’ defensive zone as they both battled for the puck.

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Dowd checked the former Odense Bulldogs forward so robustly he almost plunged over the boards and into his own bench and, in response, Michaud, attempted to retaliate.

Robert Dowd gets stuck in at GuildfordRobert Dowd gets stuck in at Guildford
Robert Dowd gets stuck in at Guildford

He might well have regretted that as Dowd’s gloves were off and he landed some decent hooks before heading to the penalty box.

As for the captaincy issue, Fox is still holding his cards close to his chest.

“I am leaning one way, but I haven’t made my mind up fully,” he said.

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“I just want us to get through camp here and then we’ll probably get that done before the regular season starts.”

Dowd, revelling in his position as the oldest player on the roster following the EIHL retirement of Jonathan Phillips, will be hoping to get off the scoring mark with a goal against Cardiff Devils on Saturday, at the Arena.

Last season the Teessider scored his target of 30 goals in competitive play, and was the club’s top marksman.

Despite the influx of new imports, Phillips still believes Dowd can top the pile in the 2023-24 season.

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“I would always back him to be a top scorer, you can more than that count on him in big games to score,” said the Sheffield Steeldogs’ skater.

“I look at any big games and tournaments over the past 15 years or so and Dowdy always scored in that big game whether it was Great Britain or with Steelers.

“I would always 100 per cent back him to do that again.”