Sheffield Steelers boss hopes to retain extra import

Levi Nelson -bang on form
Levi Nelson -bang on form

Sheffield Steelers imports face the humbling experience of being axed in favour of a fellow overseas skater for a while longer, if coach Paul Thompson gets his way.

Jeff Legue and Chris Lawrence, and before them the now disposed-of Mike Duco, have all had to sit out games as the coach tinkers with the roster he believes can beat the opposition on any given night.

And, given the manpower strength of Elite League rivals, Thompson wants to continue to keep an extra import on the books for as long as possible.

“I think it is a good thing for several reasons- for a start, competition for places keeps players on their toes,” he said.

“We don’t have the depth of Nottingham Panthers, Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils and with our captain Jonathan Phillips out for four to six weeks I don’t think this is the time to be letting any player go.

“We also have a few players suffering knocks right now, so I have spoken to the owner (Tony Smith) and we will continue to review the situation.”

Lawrence was brought in originally to cover for the injured Colton Fretter, but his displays recently have made the coach see him in a seemingly more long-term light.

Thompson described the centreman’s personal position as “part of our team, now, we have just rolled the deal on with him.”

Legue, who was dropped from the side before the 6-4 win at Nottingham, still travelled to Sunday’s NIC game and his attitude was first-class, throughout, said Thompson. “Like any player he was upset about being left out, but you’d would expect that. But he was very positive around the rest of the players and that tells you a lot.”

Thompson seems particularly satisfied with imports Russ Moyer and Levi Nelson, at the moment.

“Russ had one of his best games at Nottingham, he makes the right decisions and gets the puck up the ice well. Jace Coyle and Rod Sarich have perhaps been our most consistent defencemen so far, this season, but Russ was up there with that performance.

“As for Levi, he is a nightmare sometimes because I don’t know what he is going to do next, as he doesn’t either! But he has got a lot of talent and will hack and chop and do what he has to do to win. His pass for Rob Dowd to score at Nottingham was as good as anything you will see in this country.”