Why Sheffield Steelers drafted young Brit

Aaron Fox's focus is mainly on his own Sheffield Steelers' team when they are in action in EIHL games.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 10:54 am

But every so often a player on the opposition side leaves a lasting impression.

And when that skater is a homegrown Brit - with none of the paperwork, costs and complications of recruiting an import - Fox pays even closer attention.

Such was the case when the Steelers played against Guildford Flames in the 2019-20 season.

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The player who caught his eye was Joshua Waller, a talent who had recorded the most assists and points by an Under-23 British player, last season.

Waller was picked by Fox in the recent player draft, ahead of April's EIHL mini season.

"He was one of those guys who had stood out, as Brit" said coach Fox. "His contribution said a lot.

"He plays with a ton of pace and I think he's some real offensive ability just because of the pace he plays with. And he is only 21."

Josh Waller in full flight.
Josh Waller in full flight.

Guildford are the only English team not involved in the upcoming five week, Elite series, so Waller, a former England youth international, will get some more action under his belt before the regular season in September.

The speedy, Reading-born forward had a handful of games for Swedish team Nittorps IK recently, the same team that employed Sheffield's Cole Shudra.

Waller left there to play NIHL hockey with Bees, based in Swindon, where he has recorded three points in six Spring Cup games.

Further back in his development, he helped learn his trade with spells at HC Dukla Jihlava U20 and IHC Pisek U20 in the Czech Republic.

Steelers' winger Robert Dowd was in fine form for his Eppan Pirates loan team in the first match of their Play Offs.

He scored a goal and two assists against Verese on Tuesday but his side were pipped 6-5 in the first leg away match.

The two teams play each other again tomorrow and again on Saturday.

The GB star's haul follows seven goals and 17 assists in 13 regular season games.

Dowd, 32, is wanted by Steelers for the EIHL tournament in April but his availability depends on what happens in the Italian play offs.

Steelers assistant coach Carter Beston-Wills, 22, will return to the club ahead of next month's tournament.