WHEN Ashley Tait launched his professional career, Danny Wood was a babe in arms.
But soon as little Danny was old enough to strap his skates on, he began to admire Tait’s talents.
And now the pair are in the same team, Tait remains a positive role model on him.
And that is a comfort to Wood, who has had to shoulder his share of frustration as he tries to make himself a valuable member of Sheffield Steelers’ squad.
Wood has had less ice time than any other skater and is now recovering from a broken finger, a freak injury caused courtesy of a James Jorgensen shot in a training.
Wood, born in Walkley on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, has yet to score his first point for Steelers after 11 games.
But he accepts that he is going through an adjustment period, following five seasons studying and playing in the junior and college system in America. “The biggest challenge is to win the trust of the coaching staff and make the most of whatever chances come my way” he says.
“Getting hurt hasn’t helped one bit but I will recover and apply myself to getting more game time. A lot of games have been tight this season so I can understand the coach not wanting to risk a first-year guy but go with the players that he knows.
“If we’d been a few goals up against a team like, with respect, Edinburgh or Hull, I might have had more ice time. The level I played in America was somewhere between Elite League and the English Premier League so it’s been a jump.
“I was a sort of finesse player when I went to America but had to rein that in because it was more crash and bang there. Now I’ve to get used to the bigger ice surfaces where people are not on you straight away and you have more time on the puck. I’ve been rushing the play here and have to change that. But I will prove my worth because I know I can play.”
Wood says the example set by second top scorer Tait will help him. “He has always been inspirational to me. He is second to none in my eyes, he always gets the job done.
“He might be on the older side of the roster but if the puck goes in the corner it will be Ash who comes out with it. He is extremely skilled and always finds the net.
“He is a great asset to our team. After all these years he is still one of the best in the League.”