Euro tournament can bring best out of Sheffield Steelers

Colton Fretter - facing a challenge
Colton Fretter - facing a challenge

Colton Fretter hopes his experiences playing in Europe will stand him in good stead when Sheffield Steelers take part in the Champions League in the coming season.

The Canadian has played in leagues in Italy, Germany and Austria and has a good handle on what to expect.

Sheffield take on Frölunda Gothenburg and JYP Jyväskylä, away and home, in August and September.

They will be underdog in the contest.

Fretter acknowledges: “The Champions League will be very difficult. The teams involved in the all have varying skill level and quality.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play in many different leagues and experience some of the different styles, so I have some idea of what the calibre of play will be like.

“I haven’t been played any Finnish or Swedish teams so that will be a new experience for me” said the forward.

“From my knowledge of those leagues though, they are top notch and will be an extreme challenge for us to compete with, we will need every player playing at the best of their abilities to be in these games.”

As predicted in The Star, Manchester Storm have appointed Omar Pacha as their player-coach.

The 28-year-old Canadian from Boucherville led Hull Stingrays to the Elite League playoff semi-finals last season.

Pacha had spent the 2012-13 season in France and then linked up with the Stingrays the following season as a player, before taking up a player coaching role last year.

He said: “The situation in Hull very was unfortunate, though I am extremely excited to be joining the new Manchester Storm franchise this upcoming year.

“It’s a privilege to be named the first player-coach of the new club.

“I do want to thank Mark (Johnson) and Pete (Russell) for this opportunity and I am really look forward to the season. “Although this is a completely new team, I am confident the club can make a very positive impact on and off the ice.

“Pete and I are working around the clock to look for the best players available to fit into the club philosophy. It’s been very positive working together and moving things forward.”

GB head coach Russell, who is director of hockey for Silverblades and Planet Ice brands, said: “Pacha is a good fit to be the first player-coach of the new Manchester Storm.

“He is a good person, has a good work ethic and our organisation is excited about having him on-board.

He did a really good job on a limited budget in Hull and don’t forget he was so close to taking them to the playoff final last season in Nottingham.

“Pacha and I are working hard researching and communicating with lots players, agents and coaches in Europe and North America to find the right players to represent the new Manchester Storm.

“It’s starting to come together now and we are currently waiting on paperwork being returned on numerous agreements we have reached with potential targets.

“We will be in a position over the weekend to announce further signings for the season ahead.”

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