Sheffield ice hockey rivals' covid scare - former Steeler tests positive
Sheffield Steelers and Sheffield Steeldogs are ramping up their efforts to start new year mini-leagues but with the jolt of a stark reminder about the continuing dangers of Covid.
Steeldogs played Milton Keynes Lightning in a recent 'Streaming Series' tournament designed to test the water during the pandemic. Now, The Star understands that MKL have since recorded a small number of positive coronavirus tests among their number.
That immediately set alarm bells going for Dogs and Swindon Wildcats, the other team in the tournament.
Dogs' co-owner Roger Greenwood said MKL had informed them of developments on Sunday but "based on the time at which symptoms appeared, the NHS guidance does not require our players or staff to take any action."
Steelers' roster has not been together of course, but yet another reminder of the pandemic's prevalence came when an ex-player revealed he too had contracted the virus.
Tough defenceman Corey Beaulieu, now 51, said he was going into isolation but felt fine and that the "recovery percentages" were in his favour.
Meanwhile, Steelers officials will virtually meet sport administrators tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss some of the detail required to justify the Government splashing out a projected £4m on a series of Covid-secure EIHL games starting in January.
Exactly what that mini-league would look like is hard to predict.
If Cardiff Devils get a grant from the Welsh administration, they too could come on board.
If they fail to access funding, Steelers could be playing Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers, Guildford Flames and Coventry Blaze, possibly four times home and away.
These could be in empty rinks, or with small numbers of fans allowed, depending on local tier restrictions.
At the end of the series, there could then be a play off arrangement in April.
In the level below, Steeldogs and some of the other NIHL clubs have made a further submission to the Government, following the Streaming Series.
The Dogs are hoping for a league to start in mid or late January, but as in the case of the EIHL, it is unlikely to feature all the clubs.
Both Sheffield clubs, in their respective levels, are doing their best to re-start hockey in the new year.
Fife Flyers, who were bottom of the EIHL divison before play was stopped by the coronavirus earlier this year, are less enthusiastic.
Jack Wishart, a Fife director said a shortened season did not interest them.
Speaking to Fife Today, he said: “It doesn’t appeal to us. Fans want to see games and can’t wait to get back to the rink, and we feel for them - but timescales for this are too quick.
“To bring players in for just 12 weeks, find sponsors, cars and accommodation - we’d rather hold fire and stick with the September return which everyone was planning until the (English clubs') money appeared.”
The logistics of finding accommodation for players over the new year will be a tough call, for the EIHL clubs that are interested.
But Steelers' coach Aaron Fox said: "Housing will be a little bit difficult - we gave all those (existing) apartments up. But I think we have more or less got that under control with the options we have.
"We can't agree on deals until the Government deal is done and we know we are going."
He said he expected there would be a mix of accommodation with some players in flats, others in hotels.
"I know we will find a way; it's not a stopping point, we will figure it out."