Sheffield Steelers: Versatile Eric Meland ready to play wherever he is needed

Eric Meland is one of those lucky sportsmen who is not fussed which role his coach puts him in - he can fit in any where.

Saturday, 17th August 2019, 06:00 am
Updated Friday, 16th August 2019, 21:00 pm
Eric Meland

The 29-year-old ice hockey man says he truly has no preference whether he plays in attack or in defence, for Sheffield Steelers, for whom he debuts tomorrow.

And that is precisely why coach Aaron Fox brought him in - to boost either unit if and when they need it.

Meland, who joined Steelers from Fehérvár AV19 in the Austrian Erste Bank Hockey League, told The Star: "A lot of it depends on the health of the team.

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"If we have a bunch of injuries up front I will be playing up front, I can guarantee that. If we have some injuries in defence, I'll be playing defence.

"I have practised at both, the last few days.

"I like feeling valuable to a team, anything I can do the help the team win.

"If I play D for ten games and they say they need me to play left wing today I'll go to left wing. It is no problem. I have fun in both."

Fans at iceSheffield will probably see him make his debut tomorrow aganst HK Poprad on one of the offensive units.

Meland, initially from North Dakota, USA, has played against Poprad and next weekend's friendly opponents MAC Újbuda, of Hungary, before.

As for Poprad, who have had a longer training camp, he says: "They will probably have more chemistry as far as skating together but I think we should match up pretty well against them, they will be really good games.

"The Budapest team should be a good game as well."

Meland, left north America for Lillehammer, Norway, for the 2015-16 term, and never returned.

The utility man said opinions had changed about the standard of the EIHL.

"It was thought a bit of a step-down but I don't think that's the case any more. We get treated as well here as anywhere.

He said he had been "super-impressed" by the rink and the way he'd been treated by Steelers staff.