Will this Sheffield Steeler be the 'Golden Captain?'

Robert Dowd is still regarded as the "Golden Child" by many of the long-standing Steelers' fans.
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He first popped up on the Sheffield ice hockey scene back in 2006-07 as an 18-year-old who wanted to rub shoulders with the likes of Jonathan Phillips, Mark Thomas, Rod Sarich and Ryan Finnerty.

Apart from a couple of single-season excursions at Belfast Giants and Troja-Ljungby of Sweden - and a sprinkling of games during the Covid-hit season with Eppan in Italy - 'Dowdy' has been a regular at the South Yorkshire rink ever since.

So is he the Golden Child still?

Robert Dowd pic by Dean Woolley  Robert Dowd pic by Dean Woolley
Robert Dowd pic by Dean Woolley
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Well, not exactly as the Teessider will be the OLDEST player on Sheffield's books when the team takes to the ice next month!

Maybe he will be the Golden Captain - after all, there seem few better equipped and knowledgable than the forward who turned 35 years old in May.

But that is a decision for coach Aaron Fox when he assembles Dowd, the other returnees, and the platoon of new faces for training camp and the exhibition games ahead of the 2023-24 EIHL campaign.

With one new signing yet to be identified in the squad of 21, it is now clear Dowd, who has worn the "A" for Steelers and Great Britain with pride, will be the senior figure on the roster.

Celebratin time for Robert Dowd pic by Dean Woolley  Celebratin time for Robert Dowd pic by Dean Woolley
Celebratin time for Robert Dowd pic by Dean Woolley
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The 741-game Steeler is followed in age terms by Marco Vallerand, 34, Scott Allen, 33, and Daniel Ciampini, 32.

Phillips, now with the Steeldogs and the only person to have played more Steelers' games than Dowd, knows that his pal is in for an exciting and influential season.

"Nobody will be in any doubt what Dowdy will bring to the team this year," said the former skipper, who stepped down at the end of last season.

"There are a lot of new players coming in and I am sure they will be very exciting to watch.

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"But you would always back him to be in the running to be the team's top scorer.

"More than that, you can count on him in big games to make a difference.

"Look at any big games and tournaments in the past 15 years or so and it is always him who scores in that big game whether it was Great Britain or Steelers.

"100 percent, I would always back him to do that."

Matt Petgrave, another massive influence on the side, also speaks highly of his team mate.

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"The captaincy is not something I think about, honestly, although I don't think Jona Phillips can ever be replaced.

"But we will need someone doing their best, you need people to step up and be a leader and Robert Dowd is one of them.

"He has had an 'A' on his shoulder and was part of the leadership group in the dressing room.

"Whoever Foxy chooses I am sure we'll all be perfectly fine with.

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"Dowd makes sense, the years he has put in the organisation and how guys view him in the room and on the ice... when he speaks everyone listens and that is what is needed."

Earlier this Summer, GB coach Pete Russell told The Star the captaincy issue was: "Up to the coach and what sort of player they (Steelers) want.

But as a person, he (Dowd) leads by example.

"He cares, that's one thing about him. He can be p****d off sometimes but you always know what it means to him.

"The way he plays is that he gives everything and you want a captain who gives the lot."

Niklas Nevalainen added: "Dowdy will be an option..he is a legend."