Sheffield Steelers ‘disappointed’ after losing 10th import player

Eric Neiley - like Guillaume Desbiens last year, his departure is a blow for Steelers
Eric Neiley - like Guillaume Desbiens last year, his departure is a blow for Steelers
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Eric Neiley is the TENTH import to leave Sheffield Steelers - although he has departed under his own steam.

The American forward was one of a handful of overseas players who escaped coach Paul Thompson’s cull after the end of the 2017-18 season.

His all-action style and decent form going into the Play Offs appealed to both the team boss and fans in the stands.

Neiley had previously told The Star he’d enjoyed his half-season with Sheffield, at the beginning of last month he said he would like a full season with the club.

But the 26 year old former ECHL and AHL forward has been offered a non-hockey job back home and decided to accept.

Neiley, who scored three points in four play off games, goes out the door following in the import footsteps of Ervins Mustukovs, Zack Fitzgerald, Colton Fretter, Andreas Jamtin, Matt Marquardt, Tim Wallace, Joonas Ronnberg and Andreas Valdix.

That leaves six remaining imports, Scott Aarssen, Miika Franssila, Mark Matheson, Mathieu Roy, John Armstrong, Levi Nelson - if all of them can agree terms.

It suggests a summer spent almost entirely on the phone for Thompson, who has lost his assistant coach Jerry Andersson, too. Thompson was disappointed at the player’s decision.

“Eric was a player we would have liked to have returned” said the coach.

“He was young and played with an edge. In fact I think he was probably our best player during the play offs.

“As disappointed as I am, I can fully understand his decision.

“He is a smart and very well educated man who has been offered a chance of employment in the mainstream world.

“We thank him for his time with the Steelers. I know from speaking with him that he enjoyed every moment here very much. He leaves here with all of our best wishes for the future.”

Neiley played 34 games for Sheffield scoring 14 goals.

Robert Farmer, who learned his trade in Sheffield’s junior system, has been awarded a fresh contract by Nottingham Panthers. Farmer, 27, scored the Great Britain goal against Hungary at the World Championships, with 15 seconds to go to secure the point needed to win gold and secure promotion to the top tier of global hockey.