Fit and ready to go: the new Sheffield Steelers

New boys: Josh Pitt Tanner Eberle and Jordan Owens
New boys: Josh Pitt Tanner Eberle and Jordan Owens
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The fitness levels of the new crop of Sheffield Steelers are an improvement on last year, coach Paul Thompson has revealed.

He and his management team are reviewing the data after sports-science tests - but so far they have exceeded the class of 2017-18.

As usual, captain Jonathan Phillips is an inspiration to the others.

"Fitness levels are very good, very positive across the board, results have been increased on last year" says Thompson.

"That doesn't necessarily make you a better hockey player but it's a good start.

"Jonathan Phillips at 36, I have to say is incredible, he's fitter and stronger than he has ever been. And our other veterans are up there in top (fitness) scores.

"We are trying to get back into things and at a pace.

"No one has disappointed me" said the coach.

"Offensively I think we will skate better than last year. Justin Buzzeo has high-end skill as does Evan McGrath, who is really cultured, and Josh Pitt is big guy with a big shot.

"Jordan Owens is a very smart hockey player who does everything right.

"Tanner Eberle shoots the puck hard, skates with energy, everybody is going 100 per cent."

Thompson said he had witnessed "a lot of quality in Aaron Johnson, Josh McFadden, Juri Gula is big and strong and makes the right decisions and you can tell he had played in elite hockey. He has a bomb of a shot too.

"In fact I like the look of our 'D,' it is composed. Ryan Martinelli skates really well for a big guy."

"The two Ruperts are here now and will have to catch the others up while Chris Lawrence is still waiting for his paperwork and visa to come through in Toronto. It can be a long process."