Sheffield Steelers coach's views on the new affiliation with Steeldogs

Sheffield Steelers' coach Aaron Fox has welcomed the link with new affiliate team Sheffield Steeldogs and believes the relationship will blossom over the years ahead.
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Steelers' owner Tony Smith bought the neighbouring NIHL business last week, ushering in a new period of financial stability for the Dogs.

For Fox, it will provide a closer view of prospects in the city, although he admits it may be some time before the advantages will fully be seen on the EIHL ice.

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"I'm happy with the arrangement, I think it will be a direct pipeline to the Elite League from the local level" said the coach.

Jason Hewitt in the dogs' locker room  Pic Pete BestJason Hewitt in the dogs' locker room  Pic Pete Best
Jason Hewitt in the dogs' locker room Pic Pete Best

In future seasons, he said, all it would take would be a couple of injuries to his playing squad and suddenly there could be opportunities for prospects to stake a claim.

"Having the first NIHL arrangement of this kind can be the perfect pathway.

"Maybe, immediately, we won't reap the benefits.

"The deal happened late with our team set up (all the slots have now been filled.)

Sheffield Steelers' coach Aaron FoxSheffield Steelers' coach Aaron Fox
Sheffield Steelers' coach Aaron Fox
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"But we will be looking for opportunities for local players and others from outside the area to be put on a two way path."

Fox said the key element was the nearness of iceSheffield: "It is very convenient."

Training sessions could become a fertile development ground for Steeldogs' players, although Fox would have to keep an eye on numbers.

"You like to have a minimum and a maximum out there," he said.

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"If we were light on skaters it is easy to jump on the phone to Hewy (Dogs coach Jason Hewitt) and ask for a couple of guys for a week... but we don't want 30 guys on the ice, you have to have a certain number to get through the workflow, too many and not enough hurts the group."

Fox expects a productive rapport with Hewitt.

"I had Hewy in the Elite Series so there is already a relationship there. I like him a lot and get on well with him, he's a great guy."

One youngster who is seeking to progress out of the city is Oliver Matthewman.

The 14-year-old Sheffield Stormers' defenceman will be joining Canada's CIH Academy, which is described as a "premier hockey boarding institution, recruiting top hockey students."

His new team, CIHA Voyageurs U15s, will play in the Hockey Eastern Ontario U15 AAA, in the 2023-2024 league.