Sheffield Steelers are a league-winning prospect says Robert Dowd

It seems an awfully long time since Steelers won the Elite League trophy - the Holy Grail of ice hockey tournaments in the UK.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 9:57 am

The 2016 victory, under coach Paul Thompson, turned out to be a wafer-thin and hard-fought one - Sheffield had won the same number of matches as second-place Cardiff Devils but had won more and lost less in overtime.

Back then, Steelers were heralded as history-defining back-to-back champions.

But if the club thought they could use that notable success as a springboard to more League titles, they'd have been wrong.

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Since those heady days five years ago, Steelers might well have won the Play Offs and the Challenge Cup, but the main prize in the domestic sport has eluded them.

They have finished second once, third twice and seventh once.

Robert Dowd, who was in the last league-winning squad along with the likes of imports Jeff Legue, Tyler Mosienko, Mathieu Roy and Guillaume Desbiens, winces when reminded of the time that has elapsed.

But the Great Britain winger says he has no doubts that the time is coming when they can win the main EIHL trophy again.

Robert Dowd back-checking.

"I absolutely feel it in water, I love holding a trophy, so yes please, bring it on" he said.

"I feel more confident than ever looking at our squad. We've got a solid team from top to bottom.

"You can't count your chickens before they hatch, of course, but looking at the resumés of those who have signed it looks like a very strong side."

The first test of that assessment comes on Saturday, away at Nottingham Panthers. The return leg of the exhibition game follows 24 hours later at a jam-packed Sheffield Arena.

Robert Dowd celebrating. Pic by Dean Woolley

Nottingham will have two previous challenge matches under their belt, back-to-back defeats to Cardiff Devils.

They will have plenty to prove themselves - and have wily veteran Matt Myers in their team. The centreman played for Sheffield in the EIHL mini series.

Sheffield's season-long chances depend much on quality goaltending.

And Dowd is looking forward to seeing Barry Brust's 6ft 2ins frame fill the Sheffield net.

"He has got big shoes to fill after Tomas Duba but looking at his resumé, he looks like a hell of a signing."

Meanwhile Sheffield Steeldogs are in Cup action at Raiders on Sunday (5.15pm.)