Sheffield Steelers' "freakishly" fit skater

Robert Dowd is looking forward to joining forces with the teammate he calls "freakish," in the upcoming EIHL season.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 12:23 pm

The Great Britain winger played with Marco Vallerand at Sheffield Steelers until the coronavirus lockdown hit home.

The on-loan pair then set up camp together at Eppan in Italy before Vallerand made a further move to HK Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia.

Dowd relished the time when he and Vallerand were linemates.

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But he struggles to understand how the 32-year-old French Canadian maintains such a unique level of fitness.

"He is a freak of nature, it is amazing how strong and powerful he is.

"It was great for me coming back from injury, (2019-20 season) and having been sitting on my bum for far too long, to be able to work out with him because of how strong and how freakishly fit he is.

"I got back in shape pretty quickly just trying to keep up with him!"

Robert Dowd (right) and Marco Vallerand

Dowd enjoyed watching Vallerand's successes in Italy, where he scored 12 points in nine games.

"He was flying - his usual self.

"Vally will always score goals. I just think he is wild, a very very good player, one of the most powerful skaters I have ever played with.

"It doesn't look like he is trying or putting the effort in but he is flying.

Marco Vallerand celebrates at Belfast

"It is great that he is back next year, I am looking forward to it.

"Vally could have gone elsewhere, of course, the player he is...he could go around Europe and have his pick of a lot of spots, so it is great to have him on our side."

It was a disappointment for Dowd when Vallerand left for Slovenia.

But he said: "I was happy if he was happy, it was a good move for him at the time, he'd been offered a contract with extra two or three months playing, it made sense."

As for his own situation, Dowd, 33, is perhaps no longer the 'Golden Child' of the younger generation, the nickname the club attached to him years ago.

But the winger is happy with his prospects going into the 2021-22 campaign.

"I like to think I am more well-rounded these days," he said.

"I know when to make plays and when to be defensive, I am more defensively sound than I used to be.

"I never used to think about my own end at all, it was all-out offence only. But now I know how to play my own end."

As for his fitness, he said: "I don't have to slow down just yet, in the Summers I have to work harder for sure.

"I used to take a couple of months off - now it's not even a couple of weeks off."