Swedish dream comes real for two Sheffield ice hockey prospects
When two Sheffield lads relax in their log cabin, nestling in the Swedish countryside, they must have to pinch themselves that what is happening is actually real.
Ecclesfield-born forward Jack Brammer had signed for Swedish second division team Malungs IF back in July, a major life-change for an 18-year-old who had played just 37 games for Sheffield Steeldogs.
At his young age, Brammar's move triggered some attention.
But it is not commonly known outside iceSheffield circles that he was later followed by another academy graduate, Woodhouse Mill's Lewis Otley.
Sweden is not short of hockey players - but Malungs clearly thought the South Yorkshire pair can make an impact.
Otley, a 22-year-old defenceman had previously been on the radar of NIHL Steeldogs, attending their prospects camps.
But they could not find a defensive spot for him on their roster.
So Otley developed at NIHL2 level with Sheffield Senators before the giant leap to play in Sweden.
The former Aston Academy and Hillsborough College pupil, speaking from the Malungs Ishall Arena, explained: "Svein-Ove Nermo coached me for a couple of years in Sheffield and he saw potential in me. He had contacts at Malungs - they were looking for a d-man after signing Jack and mentioned me.
"I'd always wanted to play in Europe so when they signed me I was over the moon, it was a dream come true. Now here I am - we've had two exhibition games so far and our season starts on the 24th."
It's a huge shift in fortunes for someone who only started to watch Steelers because his mum was a member of Unison, a sponsor of the EIHL club.
Otley loved watching Jeff Legue and the rest - and started playing hockey around 10.
He came through the junior ranks at iceSheffield - but it still seems odd that he never got a chance with Steeldogs.
"I never had an offer to prove myself, with them. It's just one of those things, but now I want to prove myself over here" he said.
"The Covid pandemic hit my family hard, my father and sister suffered with it. It's been a tough time so it's great to have a fresh start.
"I am looking to go on and play at a higher level and get my fitness levels up. The standard is better here than at home so I want to push myself and challenge myself."
The biggest risk for Otley is the fact he had a job as a sales assistant with Puck Stop in Attercliffe - he has left a stable commercial income to pursue his sporting ambition.
But Otley believes he can develop into a player that will one day nail down a spot on an elite roster.
Describing his on-ice style, he said: "I am a strong, physical d-man but I do like to join the rush and help out offensively where I can. I can't wait to meet the challenge over here."