Steeler keen to see his 9,000 friends again
Anthony DeLuca is eager to renew his friendship with more than 9,000 people on Sunday.
That's when he plays in front of Sheffield Steelers' fans for the first time since early 2020.
The excitement of reacquainting with the Arena faithful has brought out the inner-child in the 26-year-old Canadian forward, whose bustling all-action style can change the course of matches.
"It’s like the first day at school as we are all so excited after the build-up to this first game. It is so good to be back" he said.
“I’m super excited and can’t wait to skate out on Sunday in front of 9,000. I’ve missed this place so much, more than anywhere else I’ve ever played before.
“The Arena looks incredible with the new ice plant, boards, and glass.
"We are skating there every day knowing those empty seats will be full on Sunday.
“I think I made it clear to everyone during the off period that this is where I wanted to return to and I couldn’t be happier to be back inside this Arena with this group of coaches and players.
"The fans have always been great with me and I am sure we can all repay their support in the months ahead," said DeLuca, who has played 86 games over two previous seasons for Sheffield.
“It’s only been a few days we have all been back together but there seems a great mix inside the room.
"We have a great and strong core but also joining us is an experienced and hungry group, some real characters who it feels like have been here for years already.
"Watch out for Martin Látal, off the ice he is hilarious, a real character but on the ice, he flies. He will have teams' defences on the back foot for sure."
Latal has been identified by coach Aaron Fox as one to watch out for - perhaps not the highest-profile signing of the new contingent, but a player who will match the fast-paced character of the team.
Before the new-look team returns to Arena action, they must first lock horns with Nottingham Panthers away, on Saturday, where ticket sales have been similarly lively.
Panthers' relatively new forward Kevin Domingue says he has been told to expect "a lot of orange" in the stands this weekend, adding the support can be intimidating.