Sheffield Steeldogs snap up 'Magnificent Seven'

Steelers are not the only Sheffield club ploughing ahead with their recruitment for the upcoming season.

By Bob Westerdale
Friday, 30th July 2021, 6:00 am

Neighbouring Steeldogs today said there were only a "couple of pieces of the puzzle to assemble" for their next NIHL campaign.

Greg Wood's team have lost the likes of Jack Brammer to Sweden, Alex Graham to OHL side Niagara IceDogs, Cole Shudra, Kieran Brown and Jordan Griffin to Leeds Knights and Thomas Relf to Raiders IHC.

It is not clear yet where England U20 goalie Curtis Warburton will be for most of the 2021-22 season.

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Dmitri Zimozdra, pic by Podium Prints

But the iceSheffield outfit has re-signed what they are calling a "Magnificent Seven" of core players.

Wood was particularly relieved to welcome back Siberia-born Dmitri Zimozdra, 33, as netminder.

“Dima has been the backbone of this team for the past few years and his performances and consistent level of play is a key reason for some of the success over that time" said Wood.

"There are some good netminders out there in our league but I wouldn’t swap any of them for Dima.”

Nathan Ripley, pic by Podium Prints

Former Coventry Blaze and Newcastle Vipers skater Nathan Salem, 29, returns for his third season.

“For our club to be successful, we had to make sure that we kept hold of a few key players and Nathan is an absolutely vital part of this club" said Wood.

"He is one of the biggest signings of the league, he fits our systems and the ethos of the club. Despite not being from the area (he was born in Whitley Bay) he is a Steeldog through and through.''

The other five are 10-year Dogs' veteran Lewis Bell, 30, dman Tim Smith 32, Chesterfield's Brady Doxey, 20, Rotherham's Nathan Ripley, 19 and 24-year-old centre Charlie Thompson.

Tim Smith pic by Dean Woolley

The coach said: "I’m pleased to be working with 'Belly' again, he is a player who has come through the Sheffield system and will form a part of my leadership group. He is a player who lets his play do the talking and is an integral part of our defensive unit”.

"Tim is a player who has flourished in recent seasons and in my opinion, he is now one of the leading offensive defencemen around. He can play in all situations and is another guy who has great leadership qualities.''

As for Doxey, a forward, Wood said: "I have a philosophy of hockey and a certain way that I like teams to play and Brady fits right into that system. I’m expecting him to have a breakout season to be honest. He is such a hard worker who would run through a wall for the team. He is a perfect fit for me and the club.”

Ripley, the coach feels, could easily have moved on elsewhere.

“I think Nathan made a few heads turn with his play last time out and there has been some serious interest in him, but I am delighted to have his signature for this season. He’s only 19 but he will play an integral part for the team and he’s another who I am expecting a breakthrough season from”.

Thompson was a dependable asset, said Wood.

“Chaz is a very dependable guy who maybe doesn’t have the biggest skill set but he certainly has the biggest heart.

"He listens and takes on what is said to help develop his game and he is strong defensively. He can cause trouble for opposing lines and he brings energy on and off the ice."Steeldogs have been heavily linked with Steelers veteran Jason Hewitt.