Rob Dowd is one of several Sheffield Steelers who breathed a sigh of relief when coach Paul Thompson recruited Zack Fitzgerald.
Last season’s team won the League - but they were vulnerable, on occasion, to strong-arm tactics from aggressive players like Fitzgerald, who threw his weight around for Braehead Clan.
While last year’s crop won the main prize without the services of an out-and-out hard man, it will be pleasant experience in the 2015-6 campaign to have a ‘policeman’ who has played a game for Vancouver Canucks, in their ranks.
Dowd said: “It’s great that they brought Zack in. Some teams like Clan had two or three tough guys but we weren’t like that. We didn’t shy away when things got tough but we missed somebody who could step up and fight their big guy if we needed it.
“Zack doesn’t just looks tough, he can back it up and is a character into the bargain. No other team should think they can take liberties, now.”
n Former Steelers asst coach will help young players develop at iceSheffield, rather than manning the Elite League club’s bench this season. He will be one of the trainers fronting ‘Redline Ice Hockey Academy’ offering 16-18 year olds ice time whilst they complete a BTEC level three qualification.
Abel said “I was happy to be offered the opportunity to develop young players across the country on the Redline programme. It is an exciting project that is made for the benefit of Ice Hockey in general. I look forward to passing on my experience and knowledge to the learners next year. A current learner is now playing hockey professionally directly because of this programme, so it doesn’t get any better than that as an incentive to join us.”
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