Sheffield Steelers' 'Iron Men' hailed after 'grind' of a season

Justin Hodgmen calls them the Steelers' 'iron men' - the three players who played every single league game of season 2021-22.
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Robert Dowd, Kevin Schulze and Sam Jones put personal niggles and injuries aside to represent the club in every single regular campaign match.

The forward and two defencemen often played hurt - Dowd was frequently seen wincing in pain in the locker room corridor after a game.

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Hodgman said of their joint feat: "It is unbelievable, I don't think I have ever done it, as a pro, it speaks to their preparation and determination and they should be proud of their iron man status.

Dowd and Jones are returning next season and it wouldn't be a huge shock if Aaron Fox spent some of his Summer trying to coach Schulze back on to the Arena blue line.

Schulze's influence on the team, especially when Daine Todd suffered a season-ending injury in February, was there for all to see.

Fox said it was a notable achievement for all three to have played every game, especially during a "grind" of a season affected by Covid.

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The fixture list had been very congested at times as all the EIHL clubs tried to fit in games that had been postponed because of the pandemic, he said.

Sheffield Steelers' Robert DowdSheffield Steelers' Robert Dowd
Sheffield Steelers' Robert Dowd

The iron men were followed not far behind by skipper Jonathan Phillips, Evan Mosey, Keeton Ellerby, and Hodgman, himself, who all chalked up 51 games in what turned out to be an unsuccessful league campaign.

Martin Latal was the team's top plus-minus skater and Fox played tribute to him too, saying: "Lats' speed sets him apart from players in this league.

"He's come in and immediately been a huge impact player for us on and off the ice and is a huge fan favourite too which is also good to see."

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Fox also gave his support to the players who voted Marco Vallerand as Sheffield's Players Player of the Year.

Sheffield Steelers' Sam JonesSheffield Steelers' Sam Jones
Sheffield Steelers' Sam Jones

"Vally is one of the best players in the league for the last two years before the injury he was leading the league in goals and points per game at that point in time and came back probably not 100 per cent to try and give us that push which tells us a lot about his character."

*Great Britain were beaten 3-1 by Italy in Milton Keynes in the first of four games ahead of the World Championship in Finland.

Steeler Jonathan Phillips and David Clements combined to set-up Ross Venus to score from a tight angle at close range on the powerplay (26:02) for 1-1 but Italy finished stronger.

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A double-headed weekend against Denmark now follows for GB with the two sides playing in Coventry on Saturday and also in Nottingham on Sunday 8, before GB and Italy meet again at the Skydome on Tuesday 10th May.

GB will then depart on Wednesday to Finland to their base in Tampere ahead of the World Championship