Steelers' goaltending trio on hold

Sheffield Steelers are waiting for news on Curtis Warburton before tying up their goaltending trio for the season 2021-22.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 1:48 pm

The EIHL club has signed up their first choice import goalie, but are yet to formally announce who he is.

Their back-up netminder is Ben Churchfield, 25, who has been on the books since the summer of 2020.

Now they are hoping that Warburton, 19, will sign for an NIHL team who would then agree to a two-way deal allowing the 19-year-old Sheffielder to play in the EIHL when the occasion arises.

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Curtis Warburton on the puck.

The Star understands Leeds Knights have been interested in Warburton, who impressed during four matches with Steelers in the mini series.

But as yet no agreement has been forthcoming.

Sheffield Steeldogs were interested in Warburton, too.

But, understandably, the 6ft 2ins netminder is looking for a starting position at national league or NIHL 1 level and Dogs have re-signed Russian-born Dmitri Zimozdra, 33, for that role.

Ben Churchfield, pic by Karl Denham

Steelers' head coach Aaron Fox confirmed he now has an import goalie committed to the upcoming season.

Asked whether he had a rotation policy in mind for the back-up spot he replied: "I still don't have a (two-way) deal with Curtis officially done.

"He is still working on his NIHL opportunities. He doesn't have a club yet" said Fox.

"Churchfield is my number two, and if we are able to do a two-way with Curtis, then we will have three and if Curtis is playing better then we will go from there.

"I am still hoping to do a two-way with wherever he ends up.

"But until he sorts that I cannot jump in. I don't think it is fair to the kid just to have him as a practice goalie or a number three for us without the opportunity to play in the league below."

In general recruitment terms, Fox is in a very solid position.

With the recent acquisition of former Nottingham Panthers and Cardiff Devils skater Evan Mosey, he has plenty of options at his disposal.

"I still have one player left to sign," said Fox.

"I am more looking for a defenceman than a forward, but if the perfect forward came available I could always move him (Mosey) back to be a full time D. He is a perfect swing guy, but the likelihood is

that he will start as a forward."

Former Steeler Brandon Whistle has signed for Leeds. His father Dave is coach there.

Whistle senior, himself a former Steelers' coach said: "I think we’re a lucky team to get Brandon. I know he’s my son, so I’ve got to say something good, right? But, to be serious, he’s been a good player pretty much all his life, he’s a good team-mate, he’s pumped to get back here.

He’s a pretty strong offensive player, makes good plays and has a good hockey IQ.

"It is a little bit weird coaching your own son, I’ve never coached my own son before, so this one is going to be maybe a small battle, not a big battle I hope.

We’ll have a few chats before the year starts. I’m not ‘Dad’ in here but he’ll know it, he’s a pretty mature kid and he’s just excited to get playing again and coming back over.