Sheffield Steelers: Why Jonas Liwing moved to 'under-rated' EIHL

Jonas LiwingJonas Liwing
Jonas Liwing
Europe may have the hump with Britain over Brexit - but in ice hockey terms, we are growing ever more popular with our friends on the continent.

While some people in the more traditional hockey nations still see the UK as a frozen backwater in comparison with the likes of Germany and Sweden, the EIHL's reputation is certainly growing stronger amongst others.

That's due in part to Great Britain men's team successes – they moved up two places to 20th in the IIHF world rankings following the World Championship in Slovakia – and club-level results and performances against European opposition Champions Hockey League.

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At Sheffield Steelers, Jonas Liwing is one of several players sampling the EIHL for the first time.

He admits, after a career spanning his homeland of Sweden, Germany and France, that his announcement of a Summer move to South Yorkshire initially turned a few heads.

Liwing came to Steelers from Västerås IK in the second-highest league in the Swedish system.

The 36-year-old said of the EIHL: "I think it is bit under-rated.

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"You can see that in the Champions League of Hockey, British teams are winning a couple of games there."

However, he admitted that when he told his friends he was signing in Sheffield: "Everybody was a bit surprised."

While people were unfamiliar, at home, with the EIHL, he said he found it to be a skilled division, with good quality throughout, and he was enjoying the competition.

Liwing scored for Sheffield in the 6-5 win at Dundee Stars on Sunday and has been pleasantly surprised by the fans' reaction at the House of Steel.

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He described the home crowd as "amazing, it is just a great atmosphere every time you come out on the ice."

The skater was the first import D to be signed by Aaron Fox and he admitted that it hadn't take him long to make his mind up.

"I had a good talk with Aaron and I just felt like it was a really good fit for me and I am really happy I am here,” he said.

"I am in an age the Allsvenskan there are so many young players they are too fast for me now!

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"No, I think this was a great opportunity for me to see a new league, visit a new country.

"I love playing with foreign players, I have played in a couple of other leagues and I am really happy to be here."

Liwing is certain to see lots of ice this weekend, against Guildford and Glasgow, with fellow defencemen Aaron Johnson and Aaron Brocklehurst injured.

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