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The Sheffield Steelers are a Britishmarker ice hockey club, from Sheffieldmarker, Englandmarker. They were formed in 1991 (see 1991 in sport) and play their home games at the Sheffield Arenamarker. They are currently members of the Elite Ice Hockey League. The clubs main (title) sponsor is Field Electrical Contractors Ltd. They are the current Elite Ice Hockey League Champions and the Elite League Playoff champions.

History

Sheffield Arena: home of the Steelers
Hockey began its return to an era of arenas and stadium size crowds with the opening of the Sheffield Arena in 1991 and the creation of the Sheffield Steelers — the ice hockey team that was to occupy the new arena. The Sheffield Arena was built as part of the city's facilities for the staging of the World Student Games, and is a sizeable stadium originally seating 8,500 and located close to the city centre. Ronnie Wood and David Gardener-Brown were at the helm as the Marketing Director at the club and set about promoting ice hockey to a city raised on the footballing success of Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday. Wood had a specific target, seeking to attract children and families to the city's new sporting Arena. As he stated in an interview in Liam Sluyter's A Game of Three Halves (Mainstream Publishing, 1998) "we were sending guys around schools. We wrote to all the schools in Sheffield and said "Bring the kids, see the Arena, sit down, experience the whole thing" ". They also began taking players to local football matches and parading them around the ground with mascots in an attempt to pull in football fans too. Another marketing ploy was to give certain players nicknames to help the crowd associate with the new (and as yet unknown) players. This was an idea hatched by the announcer Dave Simms.

The Steelers were named in honor of Sheffield's industrial past, much like the American football team of the same name based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker, and the sharing of nicknames are merely a coincidence. The American football team actually predates Sheffield's team by 58 years and was already popular worldwide due to their dominance in the National Football League in the 1970s. It should be noted, however, that on a global scale, Sheffield and Pittsburgh are considered sister cities.

The Sheffield Steelers were the first ever fully professional ice hockey team in Great Britain, and O'Brien suggested that there was a lot of resentment from the followers of other hockey teams who saw them as a "cheque book hockey club" able to buy whoever they chose. Likewise, Sluyter questions the authenticity of the majority of Steelers fans in the club's early days. Though he admitted that it was a generalisation, Sluyter suggested hockey fans of teams like Cardiff, Fife and Nottingham were ice hockey fans first and foremost, while Steelers' supporters were only Steelers fans, and knew very little of ice hockey outside of Sheffield. However, it made little difference as Sheffield began breaking several British ice hockey attendance records, and in March of that year added an extra 1,200 seats to the Arena to meet the growing demand.

Sheffield Steelers had begun their first ever season in English Division One of the British Hockey League. One year later Sheffield Steelers won promotion into the British Premier League, before going on to win this in 1995 — the last team to do so before the formation of the new British Ice Hockey Super League (ISL) that year.

On Sunday 3 December 2006, the Steelers played in their 1000th ever game. The game was against the Basingstoke Bison at the Hallam FM Arena, for which special orange jerseys had been made for the match. The Steelers lost the game 3–2 and the jerseys were all auctioned off at the game.

2000–2001

In the 2000–01 campaign the Steelers completed a memorable Grand Slam, comprising the Benson & Hedges Cup, League, Challenge Cup and Playoff Titles. The only other team to win all four trophies in one season were the Ayr Scottish Eagles who completed this feat in the 1997–98 season.The Challenge Cup Final was held in the new Odyssey Arenamarker in Belfastmarker in front of a full house of 7,300. Ayr were the opponents and Steelers won 4–2.

The Steelers are the only team to have won 7 trophies in the Superleague era.The teams playoff success came against the London Knights who they defeated 2–1 in a very tight game at the National Ice Centremarker in Nottinghammarker to take the Playoff crown.

2001–2002

After a turbulent start to the 2001–02 season, the players managed to turn things around and go on to retain the playoff title they had won the previous season. They overcame the London Knights (3–2) in the semi-final after going 0-2 down early on and beat the Manchester Storm (4–3) in the final. With time running out the Steelers were losing 2–3 before Chris Lipsett tied the game to send it to overtime. This failed to separate the teams so penalties were required. Steelers netminder, Ryan Bach, saved all five Manchester attempts whilst Brad Lauer was successful for the Steelers. This was again played at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham in front of a full house. This victory made the Steelers the only club to successfully retain the Superleague title.

2006–2007

The 2006–07 season had highs and lows, as well as a long unbeaten run, it also included a long losing streak which had some fans questioning the Coach, Matsos. However Matsos made a very difficult decision to cut fan-favourite and enforcer Brett Clouthier to bring in Ryan Finnerty who also became a fan favourite with his fiery and skillful play. Coach David Matsos completed his rookie year taking the Steelers to a fourth place finish in the league and a place in the Challenge Cup Finals.Although it was an unsuccessful season in terms of silverware for the Steelers, the club made strides off-ice and broke an Elite League Attendance record against the Manchester Phoenix with an attendance of 7339.

2007–2008

After a trophyless season the Sheffield Steelers looked on towards the 2007–08 season. They tied Coach David Matsos down to stay for another year, and preparation began for the new season.Team Owner Bob Phillips and his wife sold their other Elite League club the Cardiff Devils in order to concentrate on building the Steelers.

Matsos made a quick start in the off-season resigning his core of British Players, which were, Captain Jonathan Phillips, Defenseman Mark Thomas, and forwards Warren Tait and Jason Hewitt.

Matsos also snapped up two imports from the previous season, Goaltender Jody Lehman and the coaches player of the season Ian Manzano.

Rumours were that the other British Forward Phil Hill would not be returning and these rumours were almost clarified when Matsos signed top British forward Ashley Tait (brother of Warren) who had captained the Coventry Blaze in the previous season and lifted the League and Challenge Cup; as well as runners-up in the British Knockout Cup and the semi-finals of the Elite League Playoffs.

The Steelers re-signed fan favourite Ryan Finnerty and two days later announced the signing of Steve Munn from the Norfolk Admirals (AHL) and Munn was the first player to take advantage of the Steelers links with the Sheffield University where he will study for an MBA during his two year stay at the club.

Jeff Legue was announced as a new Steelers signing, shortly followed by Randy Dagenais who will be the second player to study for an MBA while at the Steelers. Rod Sarich's return was confirmed and Joe Talbot was revealed as a Steelers player, leaving Matsos with just one spot left to fill on his roster. Jeremy Cornish was announced as the final Steelers signing on 16 July and would fit into the Steelers third line and become the club's new enforcer.

On 18 July 2007 it was announced that Liberata would the club's title sponsor for the 2007–08 season.

On 18 January 2008 Sheffield Steelers announced the signing of former fan favourite Dan Tessier who last season scored 99 points. Dan left Sheffield at the end of last season tho pursue a career in Germany's DEL with Duisburg Foxes but was released after only 19 games with a very poor points record of only 6 point. he then went back to Canada with the Kalamazoo K Wings of the IHL, but then asked for his contact to be terminated to join a team in England.

On March 12 the Sheffield Steelers announced that they had secured head coach Dave Matsos to a 2 year contract extension which would keep him at the club until at least the end of the 2010 season.

The Sheffield Steelers won the Elite League Playoff Championship after beating the Coventry Blaze 2-0 in the final with goals from Johnathan Phillips and Dan Tessier. The Steelers beat Manchester Phoenix 5-4 and drew 4-4 in the Quarter Finals to win 9-8 on aggregate. The Steelers then beat the Cardiff Devils in the Semi Final 2-1 before progressing to the final.

2008–2009

After winning the Playoff trophy in April, Dave Matsos started his recruitment for the coming season with the goal of winning the league title. Captain Johnathan Phillips was first to put pen to paper on a new contract for the coming season, which will be his third with the club. This signing was followed by the announcement of the return of Ryan Finnerty, as well as confirmation of Steve Munn and Randy Dagenais returning to complete their 2nd year of 2 year deals, as well as their University Course.

Rumours were circulating that Jody Lehmann would not be offered a new contract, and that the Steelers were looking at bringing Christian Bronsard back to the club for his second stint.

On the 6th of May the Steelers announced British Defenceman Mark Thomas had signed a new 1 year contract, this would be the first of two announcements for the Steelers in this week. The second announcement was announced on Thursday and it was Assistant Player/Coach Doug Sheppard who was announced as the returnee after signing a new 1 year deal.

The club announced they had started contract negotiations with Goaltender Jody Lehmann about a return but had set him a deadline for his answer. A few days later it was announced Jeff Legue would be the latest of last years team to sign a new deal.

Goaltender news arrived, but not on the starting goalie front, it was announced by the club that backup goaltender Davey Lawrence would not be returning, instead he would be signing for Telford Tigersmarker in the English Premier League in order to gain a place as a starting goaltender.

Matsos continued his resignings and the club announced Jason Hewitt had signed to return for the 08/09 season. On the same day the Sheffield Star published an article stating that Robert Dowd had signed a full time contract with the Steelers from the Sheffield Scimitars, after playing 14 games for the club last term.

The club later confirmed that Jody Lehman would return to Sheffield for another season, tasked with the job of bringing the league trophy back to Sheffield.

The Sheffield Star reported that a return for Joey Talbot was looking less likely after contract negotiations were stalling, and later reported that a return for Dan Tessier, was also unlikely.Rod Sarich was also subject to rumours that he would not be returning, However Radio Sheffield were reporting he had re-signed, and the paperwork was just being completed before an official announcement was made.

The announcement of top scorer Joey Talbot returning to the club was announced on the same day the club announced Dan Tessier would not be returning to the club.Joey Talbot was the club's top scorer in the previous season racking up 39 goals and 36 assists for a total of 75 points.Dan Tessier had previously returned for his second spell at the Sheffield club and the previous season it was announced he would be present for the 2008/2009 season, however the club had decided to go in a different direction, which was expected to be in the size department.

A day later the club confirmed Ian Manzano would also leave the club as they looked for some more strength and grit in the defence department. Coach Dave Matsos stated the league was shifting towards more size again and this led to his decision to release Manzano.

After weeks of negotiating the club finally made a deal with Rod Sarich to return for the upcoming season after he rejected offers from clubs in Denmark. This left the Steelers with only 2 more positions to fill, an import forward and an import defencemen, who would be the replacements of Dan Tessier and Ian Manzano.

Nathan Gillies was announced as the Steelers last forward signing for the upcoming season, having played the last four seasons in the East Coast Hockey League for the Charlotte Checkers and Phoenix Roadrunners.

The signing for the Steelers was announced as Scott Basiuk from Elite League Rivals Manchester Phoenix. Basiuk joins the club on a two-year contract and will study for an MBA as part of the clubs partnership with the Sheffield University.

David Matsos announced a 10th forward as a final signing for the upcoming season, The tenth forward would be Andrew Sharp, who signed a two-way contract with the Sheffield Scimitars. Sharp would take the enforcer role for the upcoming season.

Brad Cruikshank was signed by the Steelers after Nathan Gillies suffered a hyper extended elbow putting him out of action for roughly 6–8 weeks, Cruikshank had played in Basingstoke for the previous 3 seasons and had scored 30+30 for 60 points in the 2007/08 seasons along with 260 penalty minutes. Gillies returned to Canada in January 2009 to continue his playing career, after turning down a coaching job with the Steelers for the rest of the season.

The Steelers endured a slow start to the season and were knocked out of the Knockout Cup and Challenge Cup early, but kept to a simple game plan relying on their strong set of defencemen and good goaltender Jody Lehman. Eventually this strategy payed off as the steelers moved up the league table, and then grabbed 1st place after a league campaign that has seen them lose just 3 times in regualtion. It is this same dogid style that has seen them outplayed in many of their matches by other teams, but the defence has kept them in it and the offence has grabbed a late winner.Towards the end of February following the All-Star game (to which 5 steeler's player and their coach were selected) the Steelers hold an 11 point gap over 2nd place with under 10 games to play, which leaves their hopes of winning the league championship in their own hands.

On March 8, The Steelers beat the Newcastle Vipers 4-1, taking their points tally to 83 after 50 games. The Coventry Blaze were in action at home to Hull, and nothing less than a win would be enough to keep their title hopes alive. Coventry lost the game 4-1, handing the league title to the Sheffield Steelers.

After winning the league title, the Steelers turned to the Playoffs, the title they won the previous year. In the Quarter Finals they managed to see off the Edinburgh Capitals and make it through to the Finals Weekend. The Semi-Final was played against the Cardiff Devils, which was a physical affair and the Steelers managed to see off the Devils by winning 5-3.The final was to be contested between the Steelers and their rivals the Nottingham Panthers, as expected it was an excellent physical battle with the Steelers running out 2-0 victors and doing the double.

2009–2010

The 2008/09 season was a great success for the Steelers, recording the League and Playoff double and Dave Matsos was keen to build a team that could emulate the seasons success, and retain many of last years stars.

Jody Lehman was the first Steelers player to announce his departure for the more lucrative European leagues, signing in Denmark for Aalborg. Many more rumours of the departing stars started, with Jeff Legue, Joey Talbot, Steve Munn, Rod Sarich and Randy Dagenais were the favourites to find new clubs abroad. Legue and Talbot both resigned for the Steelers, joining assistant coach Doug Sheppard, and imports Brad Cruikshank and Scott Basiuk, along with the British core of Captain Johnathan Phillips, defenceman Mark Thomas, Jason Hewitt, Rob Dowd, and British goaltender Dan Green.

The rumours of returnees continued, with rumours stating fans favourite Ryan Finnerty would not be offered a new deal, although the local media were reporting an offer had been made that didn't meet Finnertys demands. Finnerty later claimed no deal had been offered and he was looking for a new club. The Steelers top scorer from the previous season British forward Ashley Tait also stalled on a new deal before taking up an offer to play in Italy, leaving the Steelers without one of the leagues top British players. Matsos moved quickly to snap up 21 year old Sheffield lad Ben Morgan who would play Defence to conclude the British core, this would leave the Steelers with two British defencemen.

The goaltending position was also of much debate on who would fill the massive shoes left by Jody Lehman. Trevor Koenig and Kevin Reiter were the favourites, both being offered deals, before Kevin Reiter was announced as Jody Lehmans successor.

Rod Sarich was the next man to commit his future for the Steelers, after four seasons at the House of Steel and an outstanding year earning him the leagues Defenceman of the Year, Sarich received lucrative offers from both Europe and North America before signing for the Steelers. Coach Dave Matsos stated he had a new role in mind for Sarich this year, which would involve more playing as a forward as opposed to a defenceman.

The Steelers then announced Dan Green as returning as back up goaltender which was found strange by a majority of the fans as it was made public by the local media several weeks before. The club also announced that Canadian Centre Chad Hinz would not be joining the club, this reignited rumours of a possible return for fan favourite Ryan Finnerty. Randy Dagenais was the latest announced returnee, another import who turned his back on lucrative European offers to return to the Sheffield Arena for a third season.

Kevin Bolibruck was announced as returning to the Steel City for a second stint having played for the club during the 2003-04 season. Speculation had been ongoing for months that Bolibruck was about to return to the club. Bolibruck, who has many years experience in the AHL is regarded by many Steelers fans as the clubs best ever defenceman. Two days later the club announced the final signing to conclude their roster. The signing was Jeff Hutchins, who had played for Elite League rivals Newcastle Vipers in the previous season. Hutchins had been a resident of the UK since 2005, playing for other rivals such as the Coventry Blaze and the Belfast Giants.

On August 10 it was announced that the club would drop 'Sheffield' from their name, and using their title sponsor before the Steelers brand. Therefore the Steelers would become 'The Field Electrical Steelers' for the next two seasons.

After a bad start to the season which saw the Steelers pick up a mere 7 points from 10 games, three new faces were introduced to the Lineup. Ex Newcastle Viper goalie Andrew Verner was brought in to replace the injured Kevin Reiter who was sidelined for an estimated two months with a groin strain and hernia. Ex-AHL Defenceman Stephen Wood was brought in to replace Scott Basiuk who was also out with an injury. Matt Hubbauer was the third new face to be introduced, a Centre who played the last three seasons in the German second tier would replace Jeff Hutchins who was released by the club after joining in the summer.

2009/10 Roster

Goaltenders
Number Player Catches Acquired Place of Birth
29 Andrew Verner Left 2009 Weston, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker
35 Kevin Reiter Right 2009 Pittsburghmarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, United Statesmarker
33 Dan Green Left 2008 Leamington Spamarker, Englandmarker, United Kingdommarker


Defencemen
Number Player Shoots Acquired Place of Birth
6 Scott Basiuk L 2008 Prince Albert, Saskatchewanmarker, Canadamarker
12 Randy Dagenais L 2007 Val Ritamarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker
44 Mark Thomas R 2005 Stockportmarker, Greater Manchestermarker, Englandmarker
5 Ben Morgan R 2009 Shiregreenmarker, Sheffieldmarker, Englandmarker
22 Kevin Bolibruck L 2009 Peterboroughmarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker
Forwards
Number Player Shoots Position Acquired Place of Birth
11 Jeff Legue L F 2007 Cornwallmarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker
17 Jason Hewitt R F 2005 Manchestermarker, Englandmarker
19 Rod Sarich L LW 2005 Bladworth, Saskatchewanmarker, Canadamarker
20 Jonathan Phillips - C R F 2006 Cardiffmarker, Walesmarker
89 Brad Cruikshank R RW 2008 Kelownamarker, British Columbiamarker, Canadamarker
28 Doug Sheppard L RW 2007 Georgetownmarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker
36 Joey Talbot R RW 2007 Wahnapitae, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker
75 Robert Dowd L F 2008 Billinghammarker, Englandmarker


Honoured members

The Steelers have retired the numbers of four players. Ronnie Wood's number 7 and Tim Cranston's number 4 have been retired. Tony Hand's number 16 and Ken Priestlay's number 9 were retired on 21 January 2003 at a challenge match against the Dundee Stars., with Ron Shudra's number 26 retired in Summer 2009.

Six people who have been associated with the Steelers have been inducted to the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame. Alex Dampier, who coached the Steelers from January 1993 to the end of the 1997–98 season, was inducted in 1995 and Mike Blaisdell, who coached and occasionally iced for the Steelers between 1999 and 2004, was inducted in 2004. On the player front, Chris Kelland was inducted in 2002, Rick Brebant in 2004, Paul Adey in 2006, and the most recent ex-player to be inducted was Scott Neil in 2007.

The Steelers started their own Hall of Fame in 2005 in which honoured members are voted for by the fans. There are two Hall of Fames: The Players Hall of Fame and the Backroom Staff Hall of Fame. Ken Priestlay, Tommy Plommer, Scott Allison and Tim Cranston were inducted to the Players Hall of Fame in 2005 and Ron Shudra and Mike Blaisdell were inducted in 2006. David Simms, responsible for Press and Media at the club, and Andy Akers, Equipment Manager, were inducted to the Backroom Staff Hall of Fame in 2006 and Mike O'Connor, General Manager, was inducted in 2007.

Honours and awards

League Championships

Play Off Championships

Autumn Cups
  • 1995–96, 2000–01


Challenge Cup

Player of the Year Trophy

Coach of the Year Trophy

The Ice Hockey Annual Trophy (Leading British points scorer)

First Team All-Star

Second Team All-Star

Grand slam winning teams

The Steelers have won the Grand Slam of all available trophies twice in their history. In the 1995–96 season they won the Benson & Hedges Cup, the league championship and the playoffs. In the 2000–01 season they won the Benson & Hedges Cup, the Challenge Cup, the league championship and the playoffs. The players who played for the Steelers those seasons were:

1995–96 team

Goaltenders

Defenders

Forwards

2000–01 team

Goaltenders

Defenders

Forwards

Season-by-season record

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against
Season League GP W L T OTL Pts GF GA Final League Position
1991–92 English League Division 1 32 27 4 1 0 55 378 163 2nd
1992–93 British League Division 1 32 22 6 4 0 48 300 186 2nd
1993–94 British League Premier Division 44 28 12 4 0 55 313 198 3rd
1994–95 British League Premier Division 44 35 5 4 0 74 334 183 1st
1995–96 British League Premier Division 36 27 4 5 0 59 268 122 1st
1996–97 Ice Hockey Superleague 44 27 11 4 2 60 168 127 2nd
1997–98 Ice Hockey Superleague 44 20 18 3 3 50 169 163 6th
1998–99 Ice Hockey Superleague 42 17 19 4 2 40 135 141 6th
1999–00 Ice Hockey Superleague 42 24 14 2 2 52 188 155 2nd
2000–01 Ice Hockey Superleague 48 35 9 0 4 104 162 115 1st
2001–02 Ice Hockey Superleague 48 18 18 12 0 48 138 144 3rd
2002–03 Ice Hockey Superleague 32 18 8 5 1 42 162 115 1st††
2003–04 Elite Ice Hockey League 56 44 8 3 1 92 214 106 1st
2004–05 Elite Ice Hockey League 50 25 17 5 3 58 118 110 5th
2005–06 Elite Ice Hockey League 42 15 19 6 2 38 105 135 6th
2006–07 Elite Ice Hockey League 54 30 16 0 8 68 163 154 4th
2007–08 Elite Ice Hockey League 54 38 14 0 2 78 190 129 2nd
2008–09 Elite Ice Hockey League 54 41 6 0 7 89 201 115 1st
Finished second with 60 points. However, five points were deducted for breaking the wage cap
Three points were awarded for a win in the 2000–01 season
††Five team league


Notes

  1. Sister Cities International


External links




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