Sheffield Steeldogs announce return of veteran forward

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Sheffield Steeldogs have signalled their optimism over starting a covid-safe, ice hockey season by announcing the return of veteran forward Craig Elliott.

The NIHL is committed to enabling hockey "to return to normal as quickly and safely as possible" during the coronavirus lockdown.

And Steeldogs, who have already recruited Sheffield Steelers' defenceman Ben O'Connor, are delighted that Elliott will be on the roster.

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The forward was part of the Steeldogs team during the club’s debut season, a decade ago.

Craig Elliott. Photo by Peter Best.Craig Elliott. Photo by Peter Best.
Craig Elliott. Photo by Peter Best.

His gritty, committed style of play made him a fan favourite at iceSheffield.

The former Edinburgh Capitals, Hull Stingrays and Sutton Sting player has been warmly welcomed back by Dogs player coach Ben Morgan.

He said: "When Craig returned to the club last year, (from Sutton) I said that we should expect a different Craig Elliott, not to expect the player who just gets under the skin of the opponent, agitates and does the dirty work.

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"He will always have that side to him, but we have got a different player now. We have got the Craig who came to put points on the board, one who really brings his line mates into the play and in my opinion, he had a fantastic season," said Morgan.

“He has matured massively and he knows when he has to turn the other cheek. He was more of a leader when he played for Sutton and a points' production guy and he continued that vein of form as a Steeldog.

"He plays well when you put him with good players and he excelled when the opportunity arose.

“Craig is an energy guy and even as an older guy, he can channel his energy in different ways.

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"He was important when we were short-benched last season and was able to drive our players in the correct way.

"He is a player who helps bring everyone’s standards up. We would look to him to be a mentor to some of the younger players. He wants to be the best he can be and this certainly transfers to the younger lads.

“For this season, we are going to ask him to be a leader, to better his points production which I know he will want to do for himself. If he can strike the balance he had last season and comes in, in really good shape he is going to deliver big things.

"He is someone who will do anything you ask of him and he will do it with 100 per cent effort. I am delighted to have him back - he’s a fantastic guy to have in the room.”

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Elliott added: "It will be great to get back in the team and return to doing what we all love and that’s play hockey.

"All the guys will be looking forward to meeting up and getting back to business. Also, it will give us all some routine and normality – absence really makes the heart grow fonder.

"During the lockdown I was pretty active, I was running a few times a week, taking on different challenges and keeping the body and the mind healthy but hockey will be the best way.

“I had the chance to play on a few lines last season and it felt good to be trusted to go on the top line when it was required of me.

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"It was also good to get the opportunity to be on the power play. I will always do whatever the team needs, but it is always good to get these chances.

"When you play with quality players you can develop a different style and learn to keep hold of the puck more. These players demand more from you so you have to raise your game and do the little bits right.

“I believe I have changed my game quite a bit recently, I have some more maturity.

"I really wanted to contribute to the team, dig in and do what I needed to do. It was good to play hockey and enjoy it again - I had the focus that was needed to be a part of this team. I worked hard at doing the right things and having a particular mindset and I’m excited to get back on the ice and keep moving forward with this group of guys.”

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