Sheffield Steelers: Eric Meland free to pursue life after ice hockey
Eric Meland is free to pursue life after ice hockey despite the continuing injury toll at Sheffield Steelers.
Import Meland volunteered to leave the EIHL club at a point when it looked like the injury situation was beginning to resolve itself, with Aaron Johnson and James Bettauer on their way back.
Steelers have 16 overseas-born players at their club, excluding Meland.
The League restricts the number of import players allowed to dress for a game to a limit of 14.
When Meland, a 30-year-old American, served notice he was returning home for future career reasons, the club announced he could be recalled in an emergency, stating on their website: "Steelers were pleased to hear that Eric would be keeping in shape and should the club require injury cover through the stretch, had agreed to come back to Sheffield and remain on the club’s roster."
Canadian winger Anthony DeLuca suffered a nasty leg injury at Glasgow Clan in the Challenge Cup semi final first leg on Wednesday and Bettauer - identified as a player who would come back and play up front in his traditional defensive role - is by no means a certainty to return this weekend.
Josef Hrabal is also on the injured list and missed the 5-1 win in Scotland.
Meland is not going to be recalled so soon after leaving though, and Steelers have been preparing for Saturday's crucial match at Cardiff Devils not knowing whether Bettauer and Hrabal are fully recovered or will join DeLuca and British forward Robert Dowd on the sidelines.
It must be of considerable comfort to the club that they have won - and with some big scorelines - throughout the times they have had players missing. They have been top of the division since November.That consistency is down to several factors:
*Players like Tanner Eberle, Lucas Sandstrom and Jonathan Phillips have stepped up to the plate and done more than their share;
*Goaltender Tomas Duba has gone above and beyond expectations playing with no import back-up;
*The consistent goal scoring of Brendan Connolly and Marco Vallerand and the offensive threat posed by defencemen Marek Troncinsky, Ben O'Connor and Aaron Brocklehurst.