Sheffield Steelers beat Belfast to defenceman James Bettauer
A Canadian defenceman pursued by league champions Belfast Giants has signed a new two-year deal with Sheffield Steelers.
James Bettauer, who has German dual national heritage, was heavily influenced by the offer of a two-year MBA package at The University of Sheffield.
The programme was a huge pull on a 28-year-old man who already has one eye on a commercial future - a few weeks ago he launched his own company marketing tennis equipment.
Bettauer is the sixth new-to-the-club overseas born player and fits in to the coach's need for versatility - he has played forward in the past.
He has played in the top German league since 2012, at four different clubs.
Last season, his club Krefeld Penguins did not make the play offs, finishing 11th; Bettauer left in May and will now be hungry for a more productive term in the EIHL.
Before Krefeld, he played with ex Steelers' goalie Matt Climie at Straubing Tigers.
Overall, in 351 DEL and Play Off games, Bettauer recorded 41 goals, 69 assists (110 pts) with 232 penalty minutes.
That experience and eye for an offensive rush should be invaluable as he joins the EIHL for the first time.
“It was time for a change and a new challenge,” explained Bettauer.
"When the opportunity of playing in the UK arose and with it been coupled with the fantastic opportunity to study for an MBA then I realised this was the move for me.
“I was lucky that I had several options but after speaking with Aaron and looking into the schooling at the University of Sheffield I decided the Steelers was the team I should be joining.
“I’m looking forward to my time in Sheffield, the more I look into it and research it the more I feel it’s the right thing to do.
"As players and people, you look for new challenges. Whilst the education is important for life after hockey, especially as I have just started my own business, I am super-committed to the game and the Steelers.
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“I’d like to think that I have qualities that will help. I’m mobile and can play at either end of the rink, given the opportunity I can produce points, I have a big shot.
"The coach obviously likes my game so I will do as I am asked and I’m sure we will have good times ahead.”
Fox commented: "We can’t thank the Management School at the University enough for their assistance in helping us attract James to the Steelers.
"He’s a solid two-way D-man who has consistently been a Power Play and Penalty Kill guy at the DEL level; he can play in all situations.
"He skates well and is willing to mix it up physically when needed.
"We want to be a team that has active, aggressive D in all three zones and he’s a guy who will get us stops in the D-zone, but also likes to join the rush, and likes to push the pace.
“I’m really looking forward to having him here for two years and really like the way our D-man situation is looking.”
Bettauer, from Burnaby, British Columbia, had other University deals on offer but Sheffield now has a world-reputation for academic research.
Fox acknowledged: “The University of Sheffield was the main recruiting point to him. He had other Uni deals on the table and for him this being a triple accredited Russell Group school got this over the line for me.
"I have learned in my short time here in Sheffield how important this programme is to the Steelers and the quality and professionalism of all involved in delivering it to us at the University.”
Ian Proctor, MBA Executive Programme Manager said: “We are delighted to have James on board, our long-standing relationship with Steelers has meant that we have had some very capable and motivated students join our MBA programme.
"The MBA programme at The University of Sheffield attracts students from around the world, they are all experienced professionals but the Steelers' players always bring a different perspective to the programme.
"We very much look forward to welcoming James to the Management School in September."