Slimmed-down Brandon Whistle back at Sheffield Steelers
Brandon Whistle will get a second chance to prove himself at Sheffield Steelers - even though he is a fraction of the man he once was!
The forward, who has agreed a two-way deal between parent NIHL club Leeds Knights and Steelers - has undergone a three-and-a-half stone weight loss in recent times.
When he was on Steelers' roster in 2018-19, it was generally accepted that he was heavier than was fitting for a player of his age and frame.
But a strict diet means that's all in the past now.
Whistle told The Star: "I really enjoyed my time in Sheffield. I had a few injuries at the beginning of the year (exhibition game against Swedish team Timra) and then another mid-way through the season.
"I got along with Tom (Barrasso; coach) very well, obviously the ice time wasn’t there for me to really get into any sort of groove and show what I can do, but that also had to do with the shape that I was in.
"If I remember correctly I weighed 230 lbs (16 st 4lbs) when I was in Sheffield last and I’m currently around 180 lbs (12 st 8lbs) and since then I have really put the time into becoming the best professional I can be on and off the ice.
"I just really had to switch the way I trained and my diet. I have weighed out my food and tracked everything that had been going in my body for the last two years now and it’s made a huge difference."
Whistle was recruited for Leeds by his father Dave, the team’s coach, earlier this month.
But today it was announced Whistle would be in the frame for a call-up to the Elite League should Steelers’ coach Aaron Fox need him.
Leeds will have first call on his services, though.
The agreement between the sides gives the 23-year-old a chance to show how he has developed since his spell at Sheffield Arena.
The centreman's limited ice time there meant he failed to find the net in his first 47 games.
At the time, Barrasso’s philosophy on Whistle was briskly delivered: “He’ll play when I have a place for him.”
But the Canada-born player was awarded man of the match status after scoring against Milton Keynes Lightning in a 5-1 Steelers’ win in March 2019.
As Barrasso left the scene, so did Whistle. His contract was terminated by Sheffield.
Whistle, brother of GB number two netminder and former Steeler Jackson, dropped down a division to Telford Tigers where his numbers radically improved. In 37 games he scored 22 goals and 37 assists for 59 points. It was his best season to date.
The forward hasn’t played since but was happy to sign for the Elland Road club.
Sheffield coach Aaron Fox said: “Brandon will practice with us when he’s available and we can use him for games when Leeds aren’t playing which currently looks like an option for 20-plus potential games.
“Brandon has really put in the work in the last two years and shown a commitment to hockey and being a professional. I think he has a real opportunity to be a good player at the EIHL level and am excited to have him back and hopefully help him get to that level.”
Steelers will have two other British players out on two-way contracts in addition to their EIHL 19-man squad, Cole Shudra is also bound for Leeds and Curtis Warburton is on his way to The Bees IHC, who play at Slough.
Fox will confirm the club’s final import signing on Wednesday.