Sheffield Steelers goalie offers 'insight' into new season
Ben Churchfield is grateful for the experience of playing in the recent EIHL series and hopes it will stand him in good stead for his first full season with Sheffield Steelers.
The 25-year-old, formerly of Green Park, Bawtry and Hooton Levitt, Rotherham, played 10 games for Sheffield in the April-May tournament.
Having previously moved to America, it was his first taste of hockey in the UK since 2014, when he played with Cole Shudra for Steel City Scorpions.
Churchfield was thrown into the deep end when import John Muse was injured half an hour into his debut against Nottingham Panthers on April 3.
The Brit faced a total of 254 shots in the series, recording a save percentage of 87.40.
"For me it was a great experience to get back to Sheffield and play some games," Churchfield told The Star.
"It gave me a lot of insight into what a full season will be like next season.
"Reflecting on the series I want to say how well organised every aspect of the event was, thank you to everyone involved in putting the mini series together."
Churchfield has started his preparation for a full season based out of Sheffield Arena.
"As of now we’re in the early stages of training for the 2021/22 campaign" he said.
"I spend the days working on mobility, flexibility and strength in the gym to then begin skating in July."
Meanwhile, Cardiff Devils are delighted to have landed Churchfield's Steeler team-mate Josh Waller for next season.
On June 9 The Star suggested the Welsh were leading the hunt for a player who impressed in a Steelers' shirt and had a host of admirers at the club.
Devils Head Coach Jarrod Skalde has also re-signed Sam Duggan, for his third season at Cardiff.
Skalde said: “I think both these guys are going to have a big season for us and at 22 years old, they both are just at the start of long pro hockey careers.
“Waller caught my eye in the Elite Series because of his speed and composure on the puck.
"He got better and better each game, and you could see the Steelers' coach was giving him more opportunity to play in key situations as the tournament progressed.
“I love working with young guys like this that are excited to get better every day, and speaking to both Josh and Sam, they are pumped to get onto the ice as soon as possible. "I think these are two great signings for this season but also for the long-term success of the Devils."
*Arizona Coyotes are not expected to make public their new contract with South Yorkshire's Liam Kirk until NHL free agency starts on Wednesday, July 28.