Sheffield Steelers reveal final two signings before EIHL series
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One will be immediately recognisable to Sheffield Arena fans: Josef Hrabal 35, is back in orange after 25 league games for HC Prerov in the Czech Second National League and a further 13 for Austrian team Villacher SV in the Erste Bank League and play offs.
He should be in optimal match-fitness.
Sheffield have also added a new boy in Josef Mikyska, 26, who has been a HC Vitkovice player, competing in the Czech Extraliga, until the team slipped out of the play offs.
The centreman represented his country from Under 16 to U20 level and has iced professionally since 2014, including spells in Germany and Slovakia.
He is used to chopping and changing clubs, with no fewer than seven loan periods on his CV.
Hrabal will be better versed with Steelers; he made 19 appearances for them last season and ended up with a Challenge Cup championship winning medal.
Sheffield coach Aaron Fox said: “It’s great having Hrabs back for this Elite Series. He was playing top line minutes in Villacher in Austria and should come back in really good form.
“Hrabs played a huge part in our success last year. He plays a physical game and his compete level is through the roof.
"He can chip in offensively but prides himself on shutting down teams' top players and is excellent on the Penalty Kill. It’s just great to have him back.
Fox said Mikyska was "a skilled centre who is coming off a solid year in the Czech Extraliga. He played mostly on the second and third line in Vitkovice and played a very responsible game while adding 11 points (4+7 in 46 games) on the year. I feel that it is a top league in Europe.
“He showed off his offensive game the year before in Slovakia (a point a game with HK Dukla Trencin,) finishing in the top five in league scoring.
"Josef is extremely talented in tight areas and is a pass-first player.
"I also thought it showed real character by playing in Czech this year instead of staying in a (Slovakian) league where he was so dominant. I think he will be a great fit and be a big-time contributor”.
Both players will face Nottingham Panthers on Saturday April 3, for the start of the Covid-protected series.
There will be some disappointment from Steeler fans that Anthony DeLuca won't be back for the series.
But coach Fox had his hands tied with the numbers he could recruit and the winger just missed the cut.