Sheffield Steelers' new look defence starts to take shape

Sheffield Steelers are making positive strides towards a partial re-build of their team.
Sam Jones, picture: Dean WoolleySam Jones, picture: Dean Woolley
Sam Jones, picture: Dean Woolley

The Star understands that at least half of the defensive corps has now been signed.

Last week, the EIHL club announced the pending arrival of 6ft 4ins import Kevin Tansey, a new player to the UK scene.

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The Star believes Sheffield management has also received a commitment from an American defenceman in his early 30s who has a solid track record in the ECHL, a spell in the AHL and a couple of seasons in Europe.

GB mainstay Robert Dowd, picture: Dean WoolleyGB mainstay Robert Dowd, picture: Dean Woolley
GB mainstay Robert Dowd, picture: Dean Woolley

The blueliner has played with Steelers past and present and is a big personality, who should bring some vitality to the dressing room.

The player will be joining Arena defenders Tansey and Sam Jones, who will be the only British defensive skater on the roster.

Jones is only 25 and has his best years ahead of him.

He had a strong finish to Great Britain's recent World Championship promotion push.

Sheffield ArenaSheffield Arena
Sheffield Arena
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Steelers today confirmed that Jones will remain under contract at the club, as will forwards Robert Dowd and Brandon Whistle.

The squad also presently includes import goalie Matt Greenfield and forwards Alex Graham and Brett Neumann.

Sheffield head coach Aaron Fox said: "I’m sure the signings and announcements will start to come thick and fast now.

“We will have another name in the week I’m sure.”

The club pointed out that 2023-24 will be Dowd's 13th full season as a Steelers, in which time he has become the club's all-time leading (EIHL era) goal scorer.

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They have not decided yet who should captain the roster, but clearly Dowd's name could be in the frame, following the retirement of veteran Jonathan Phillips.

Commenting on Dowd, Jones and Whistle, Fox said: “All three players are hugely important to us.

“We are excited having them at the core of our club and expect big things from all three this coming year ahead.”

Jobs in the EIHL are certainly competitive for homegrown players.

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There is no place in the Elite League now for ex Steeler Luke Ferrara, who is returning to his home NIHL club, Peterborough Phantoms, the 2022-23 National Cup Champions.

Meanwhile, EIHL league runners-up Guildford Flames have signed north American college player Kobe Walker, for his professional debut year.