Power winger open to staying at Steelers for second season

Russian power winger Nikolay Lemtyugov is open to a second season at Sheffield Steelers - and hopes to end his debut year with at least one Elite League trophy.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 11:42 am
Russian forward Nikolay Lemtyugov in action for Sheffield.

There had been some speculation that the hard-grafting forward would be heading back to his homeland at the end of the EIHL campaign.

"I like to stay here" he told The Star.

"I just like Sheffield. I like (the) fans, the Arena is a great atmosphere."

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He said the city had been a surprise to him: "Every game here it's like five or 6,000 people, or more, it's unbelievable.

"But nobody has talked with me about a new contract. Now I just concentrate on this season and winning something for Sheffield.

"That is my target and we'll see what happens after.

"If they give me a new contract, we'll see if that happens."

He said his mind was on winning the Challenge Cup and the "national championships."

Lemtyugov, like Czech team-mate Marek Troncinsky, has had to tackle the language barrier in England, but has not found the culture here to be hugely different to what he has sampled elsewhere on his hockey journey.

He said it can be difficult for some Russians to settle overseas but added: "We are human, you stay - it doesn't matter where - a couple of months and you are just feeling great...if you want to."

The Russian, who took a stick to his face in Sunday's win over Belfast Giants, said he had adapted quicker in Sheffield because he had played in the United States and that the mentality for players in north America was similar to here.

But when his playing career is over, he wants to work with youngsters in hockey, utilising a diploma gained via a university in Russia.

He wants to put something back into the sport.

As for his current position with Steelers, Lemtyugov said that the team work and practice sessions were behind much of the team's success so far along with the explosive offensive qualities of "five or six guys who are pretty good."

Lemtyugov said everyone on the roster had respect for the departed team-mate Eric Meland.

"We will miss him for sure - a great person in the room, every day he is smiling, joking, very good for the atmosphere, he said.

"But he took this (career) choice and his team-mates respected that and wished him luck."