Will Tanner be top dog again for Steelers?

Can Tanner Eberle - the player who came from nowhere - continue his team-leading form when he returns to Sheffield Steelers later this month?

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 8:22 am

The 27-year-old winger swept up the personal accolades in the EIHL 2021 mini-series, including most goals, most points, and was deemed the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

That topped the previous 2019-20 year when he possessed the League's best plus-minus figure (+30) and helped Sheffield to the Challenge Cup victory,

Before joining Steelers - who have assembled a powerful NHL-experienced group within their new team for this season - the AHL had been the highest level Eberle had played at.

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He iced 11 games in that division without recording a point - so life in British hockey certainly seems to suit him.

It will be fascinating to see if the Canadian will stay up there with his peers at Sheffield Arena in the coming campaign.

Coach Aaron Fox won't see that being a problem for the workhorse, who never knows when to give up on a chase for a puck.

Nor can Jason Hewitt, the Steeldogs' centre who shared the ice with hard-hitting Eberle for 16 games during the mini-tournament.

Tanner Eberle hails a goal Pic Mark Ferriss

Eberle played more minutes in the series than anyone other than Jérémy Beaudry.

"Ebs has come from nowhere with all his statistics for Sheffield. I really like how he charges around and crushes people.

"In doing that he gives himself so much room, he is more skillful than I thought he was before I had actually played with him.

"After the Covid situation, he was obviously itching to get going and had a lot of built-up attitude and feistiness for it.

Tanner Eberle at Manchester Storm.

"Unlike some of the other guys, he hadn't played during the earlier part of lockdown. But maybe he benefited from the break.

"You see a lot of guys who are Ebs' age retiring quite early. They fall out of love with the sport.

"He beat the rest in goals, he must have had a horseshoe up his back end in that tournament!

"But what a grafter. Some guys take a while to adjust to a certain style of hockey in that tournament but Ebs was already going with it."

Jason Hewitt with the Steeldogs.

The Star yesterday highlighted the challenge facing Steelers' two two-way assets.

Hewitt has known one of them, Cole Shudra, for many years and feels the time is now right for him to fully assert himself.

"It's a tough one with Cole; it feels like he has always been right there, but for one reason or another it's not quite worked out. But on a two-way, he has given himself a chance.

"For him to succeed he has to work his ass off. He is a big strong kid, definitely capable he just has to do the work hard and take his chances.

"He is going to get a chance at some point. He's had them in the past, but now he has got to take advantage of them and stick in someone's mind and make them realise they need him there" said Hewitt.

"Being able to play on the wing and on D has held him back, he's never really mastered one. As much as though it is a luxury (for a team) it goes against him a little bit. Cole has got to make it work, the years tick by and then it's gone."