SHEFFIELD ICE HOCKEY: Competition for fans is ‘good for sport and city’

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TOM SQUIRES hopes relations between his old and new employers will thaw - but warned that ice hockey fans now have a genuine option if they want to watch the sport in Sheffield.

Squires has moved from Steelers to Steeldogs - Elite League to English Premier - and is excited that the Dogs are gaining a reputation that should fill more seats at iceSheffield.

The EPL side has recently signed ex Steelers’ enforcer Derek Campbell and Estonia captain Dmitri Rodin.

Squires, 21, who left Steelers reluctantly, acknowledges there is a tension between both clubs. But the winger says: “Healthy competition between two good clubs in one city is a good thing for the sport, in my mind. Steelers are in the Elite League but we have a good ‘Made in Sheffield’ brand, our ticket prices are cheaper and Dogs are a much more professional club now since Andre Payette took over as coach.

“Steeldogs’ fans tend to be more from Sheffield, while Steelers attract followers from all over Yorkshire” he said.

“Both teams were not far off the top spot last season and there will be plenty of good quality hockey to watch as both try and win a title in the next season.”

Squires, who says he is eating seven and eight meals a day in a diet plan designed to bulk him up, was interested in Steelers bench coach Neil Abel’s remarks in The Star recently. Abel had said that there were some negative influences in last year’s dressing room, before and after Colt King was axed by Ryan Finnerty.

“I never saw any negativity and the whole team was shock when Kinger was released” said Squires. “Kinger and Soupy (Campbell) are a different breed (as enforcers.) I was surprised when Kinger went.

“When people like him, Brad Voth and Gui Lapine are on the ice the opposition can’t get away with anything.”

Squires believes Hull Stingrays, who booted Steelers out of the Play Offs, benefited from King not being available.

“Certain of their players were a lot more prominent than they would have been, put it that way.

“They played a lot more aggressively.”