Meaner and keener: Sheffield Steelers’ defence should be better this season

Steelers. Pic by Dean Woolley
Steelers. Pic by Dean Woolley

Robert Dowd believes Steelers’ Summer ins-and-outs should mean a stronger defensive presence in the coming season.

From the team that started last year, Sheffield have lost Christoffer Björklund, Jace Coyle, Anders Franzon and Rod Sarich.

The newcomers are Scott Aarssen, Mark Matheson and Joonas Rönnberg.

With half the blue line corps replaced, winger Dowd believes that will bring extra strength.

“I think our main difference as a team will be that we are very strong in defence” he says.

“We look sound. You can’t tell much until training camp but on paper we look great defensively.

“Last year I also thought we were sound but we have upgraded. Offensively we scored a lot of goals but then defensively we’d have lapses, we’d let in two or three goals quickly.

“It was strange, we’d be fine for 55 minutes, but concede a few in the other five minutes. Hopefully we won’t need to worry about that now.”

Dowd said it was disappointing to see players move on, adding Guillaume Desbiens was the toughest pill to swallow.

“It hurt losing Dessy, he sent a message saying he had a job opportunity he couldn’t turn down.

“He’s the guy we will miss most in the room. He was a big character and he came good for us in big games and scored big goals.”

But the Teessider said the arrival of Matt Marquardt represented a promising replacement.

“He was tough to play against, he is going to be a big hit in Sheffield.

“I remember from playing against him he was big and strong, he could shoot the puck and had nice hands,

“I think he has a more offensive style than Dessy, so he might get a few more goals.”

The contribution of both old and new players will be closely monitored from the off, as Steelers try and close the quality gap on Cardiff Devils.

“It’s not just Cardiff we have to focus on, the whole League is getting more competitive” said Dowd.

“Belfast Giants and Nottingham will be very strong. The new teams will be good too” he said.

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