RYAN FINNERTY: Steelers coach considers swooping for hidden Italian gem

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STEELERS coach Ryan Finnerty believes he has discovered a hidden gem - but whether he can bring the ice hockey treasure to Sheffield remains to be seen.

As The Star revealed yesterday, Finnerty has been on a scouting trip to Val Pusteria in Italy to look at forwards David Ling, Joe Jensen and Joe Cullen. He also added defenceman Matt Kelly’s name to his potential shopping list.

However the coach also stumbled across Italian national Max Oberrauch, who has never played outside his own country and has largely remained off the radar of Elite League sides.

“He is one hell of a player,” said Finnerty. “He reminds me a lot of (Cardiff left wing) Max Birbraer, he is fast, big and physical and has a high skill level. He is good by European standards and North American and his name is going to be at the back of my mind for a while.”

But can they entice him from South Tyrol to South Yorkshire?

“It is hard to get Italians out of their own country,” said the Canadian. “If they play for their country and leave it to go elsewhere it is considered a slap in the face to the national team. But you never know. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Finnerty will continue his scouting at the English Premier League finals at Coventry this coming weekend. But one player not on his list is Sheffield Steeldogs goalie and GB pick Ben Bowns.

“You always look to improve your British corp but I won’t be making any move for Bowns,” said the coach.

“I rate Geoff Woolhouse (Steelers’ second string) above him. I have a lot of respect for Bowns, he is going to be a great goalie but first he has to serve his time as a second-string at the Elite League.”