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Two more Steeldogs Prospects make the grade

The Bradfield Brewery Sheffield Steeldogs are a team committed to player development. In recent seasons there have been many players who have had a chance to show what they’ve got in their locker wearing Steeldogs colours. Players including Cole Shudra, Liam Kirk and more recently Alex Graham have come through the ranks of the Academy and into the Steeldogs roster.

The Prospect Programme has given young players the chance to prepare themselves for senior hockey and has seen Curtis Warburton, Aaron Jepson, Brady Doxey, and this season Jack Brammer graduating to become regulars for the team.

We have now two more ‘Steelpups’ who have stepped up to the senior team; Will Harper and Nathan Ripley both made their senior debuts last Saturday as the team took on the Bison – and with injuries and penalties they both logged significant ice time as part of a winning effort.

We caught up with the lads during the journey home:

First experience of hockey…

Will: “My dad brought me ice skating and from there I was hooked. I first played aged 8, I was a part of the Sheffield Academy. I used to come and watch the Steeldogs as a child, my favourite player was Payette because I loved the fighting!”

Nathan: “I came to a birthday party years ago and was told I was good at skating. From there I got into the Sheffield Academy aged 11. One of my coaches, Paul Britton gave me a good start in the game. I used to watch the Steelers and Colt King was my favourite player.”

Hockey development…

Will: “I’ve played my hockey with the Academy; I really appreciate the work the coaches put into you and I would say Jeff Colton has made an impact on me. Greg and Morgs are now working with me as I am one of the prospects training with the Steeldogs regularly. The Steeldogs set up is very professional.”

Nathan: “I’ve played with the Academy for a few years now but I’ve also spent some time in Cornwall, Ontario. It’s totally different in Canada as you get much more ice time, you’re out there every day. The players are much bigger, faster and the rinks are smaller.”

Being a Prospect…

Will: “I have been a part of the Prospects for 2 years now. It is a great opportunity for young players to learn to play smart, focus on your speed and learn positioning on the ice. I am picking up so much about my game by being involved in the training sessions.”

Nathan: “The Prospect experience has been good so far, the thing I’m really learning at the moment is positional awareness and knowing other players are around you. Woody and Morgs are great coaches, they are making sure I get the most out of it all when I train.”

First taste of the senior game…

Will: “I really enjoyed getting out there on the ice - I got more chances than I expected. I didn’t really feel nervous, I just took it as it came. It was very exciting to be involved in though. One of the main differences I experienced was the size of the opposition and their pace. Teams at this level really have to work as a team and communicate. You’re working towards one goal, the same team goal.”

Nathan: “The Basingstoke game was a great experience, just being around the team and being part of the preparation was excellent. When I got the chance out on the ice, I did what I was asked to do. The players at senior level are much bigger and faster than what I am used to. I see myself as a goal scorer but one who will get into the corners and do the dirty work too.”

The future…

Will: “I’d love to take hockey as far as I can. I am enjoying learning and playing, let’s see how high a level I can get to.”

Nathan: “I would like to progress and learn more. I would like to play at the highest level possible.”

Ben Morgan was delighted with the two Prospects;

“Both Nathan and Will have shown a great attitude, they listen well and follow what they are asked to do. Both lads are keen to learn and develop their game. We have been looking at bringing in young players when we get the chance and we were short on numbers over the weekend so what a great opportunity for these boys. I didn’t want to bring them in and just keep them on the bench, they needed the chance to get out there and show what they can do. I was very happy with what I saw, they did exactly what was required and I think they could be called up on a more regular basis.”

Well done to Nathan and Will – and good luck for the future!

Will and Nathan both continue to train with the team and you can see if they are in the line-up when the Steeldogs play MK on Sunday afternoon.

Steeldogs vs Lightning
Sunday December 15th
4:30 faceoff at iceSheffield

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Roger Williams

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