The lowdown on Sheffield Steelers' new 'Big Hitter' Keaton Ellerby

The spectacle of throwing a perfectly-timed and fairly-weighted bodycheck is one of the most pleasing sights for ice hockey fans - if not for the person on the receiving end.

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 11:50 am

Over the years, Sheffield Steelers have had several players who could launch a hit straight out of the sport's textbook.

Steve Carpenter springs to mind, (2000-01 season). He was only 5ft 10ins, but his control and judgement to line up a mid-ice bodycheck isn't forgotten some 20 years later.

A hit from 'Carps' not only separated an opposition player from the puck, but it almost separated his head from his shoulders.

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Keaton Ellerby in action.

And that upped the intensity of any game and the excitement of the fans' watching it.

Other notable body-takers in Steelers' past were another former Nottingham Panthers player, Jason Weaver, Jamie Van der Horst and David Longstaff.

On the present team, you wouldn't want to be on the wrong end of Robert Dowd or Tanner Eberle; like Carpenter they are not huge men but they know how to take out a rival.

Now Steelers appear to have recruited another expert in the dark art.

Tanner Eberle sizing up for a check. Pic: Dean Woolley

Keaton Ellerby will arrive at Sheffield Arena from Hungrian team Ferencvárosi TC with a reputation for taking the body.

Describing his own technique, the 6ft 5ins Canadian told The Star: "I skate pretty well for my size, although it took me a little while to get used to the bigger ice in Europe to use the body. But now I have kind of got it figured out.

"You have got to read the play and if the opportunity is there take advantage and put someone on their ass!"

Ellerby said it was a part of the game he drew satisfaction from.

"It is a physical sport and when you do get that opportunity it is always a good feeling. It gets the crowd into it and is an enjoyable part of hockey."

Another new boy at Steelers, Justin Hodgman, said the home fans will rise to Ellerby's physical impact.

"A few hits that he laid out on attacking players last year (at Ferencvárosi TC in Hungary) were some of the biggest I've seen in my career" said the forward.

"I'm sure he will have the fans on their feet with some more of those this year.

"We played against each other in the American League coming up in our career, and he always stood out as a high quality player and person."

Hodgman added: "Keats is obviously a great player, but an even better person.

"I felt very lucky to have shared my time together in Budapest with him and his family.

"He's the type of guy that everybody loves in the locker room and fans will love to see on this ice. He can play in every situation, moves well with the puck, and closes fast in the D zone."

Former Sheffield forward Stefan Meyer iced with Ellerby at Rochester Americans in the AHL and describes him as a man who will "bring that blue collar back end that Steelers hockey loves."

Meyer said the defenceman hits like a train and added: "He will be an absolutely solid stud for Sheffield. He is big, mobile, a great skater. With that long stick, he can skate the puck out of trouble too."