Sheffield Steelers star in awe of speed king team-mate

Robert Dowd was a frequent admirer of Marco Vallerand when the pair were gracing the ice at Sheffield Arena, last season.

Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 2:49 pm

Now the duo are team-mates again at HC Eppan Pirates in Italy - and the experience has only served to increase Dowd's respect for the sleek goal-getter.

"Vally is playing well. His speed is nuts," says the Steelers' legend, who joined Eppan after coronavirus shut down the Elite League in the UK.

"It doesn't look like he is skating hard yet he generates so much power.

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"He just cruises round people."

Dowd, aged 32, has had to make sacrifices to earn a living, after temporarily moving from South Yorkshire to South Tyrol.

He was heartbroken not to be able to visit his wife and two children in Sheffield, over Christmas, because of Covid travel restrictions.

Robert Dowd, right, with Marco Vallerand.

He spends most of his time preparing to play games and has a new way of life.

"I wake up around 9am, which is way later than at home - there it's 6ish with the kids!," says the forward.

"We get a good breakfast in us, then head to the rink, grab a coffee then work out. We finish around 2pm, and come back and get some lunch. We relax for a couple of hours then back to the rink for team workout then get on to the ice."

The EIHL website this week reported that Dowd had chalked up seven points in Eppan's eight games, but the winger corrected that, stating: "I have only played five games; they played games before we got here."

His Eppan team is currently bottom of the league, with just two wins under their belts.

But the Great Britain regular said: "Hopefully we can string some wins together and get back in the mix."

Dowd and Vallerand, 31, are two of only three imported players wearing yellow and blue at the Eisstadion Eppan.

Most of their team-mates are young: the average age of a player is 21.

*Glasgow Clan chief executive has clarified his club's position about the prospect of a short-form EIHL tournament.

"As far as I know, among the five teams south of the border, there is always thinking of a smaller, shorter league, but it’s not something we’ve ever been involved in," he said.

"It would not have been possible for us to participate if you considered the expense and everything around it, so our preferred choice was always to sit out 2020/21."

Quoted on the Brinkwire site, he added: "We will have to deal with the new procedures that will come our way as a result of Brexit if we can start again, including higher prices for NHS surcharges (for imports] and the visa process.

“There’s a lot to sort out over the next few months, but we’re determined to come back better and stronger, and that’s our goal for the coming months.”

*The five English EIHL clubs will formally apply for their individual share of a £4m pot of Government money on January 5, following a board meeting today (Tues).

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