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Nathan Ripley – Prospect turned Steeldog

Nathan Ripley started last season as a 17 year old in the Steeldogs Prospect Programme but when injuries hit the team, he was given an opportunity to step up to the team for a game down in Basingstoke. He got plenty of ice that night and was part of a winning team – and he will be a Steeldog again the 2020/21 season.

With three forwards out of the line-up for a couple of months, Ben Morgan gave him the chance to become a full-time Steeldog. #29 got lots of opportunity over the rest of the season and picked up his first 2 goals and showing a fearless attitude on the ice.

Morgs was impressed by how Nathan adapted to senior hockey;

“I thought Nathan did really well when he got his chance with the team. He set his stall out from the first game in Basingstoke. He was kind of thrown into the deep end a little bit, possible getting a few more shifts than he thought he would have expected. He got the chance to play with some of the more experienced guys and indeed was played on numerous lines through the course of the season. He did really, really well and has earned a contract for next season.

“Prospects lets us give an opportunity to players to showcase their talent, and otherwise we might never hear about them or get to see them in real life. It can be difficult to see players play at different levels because we are a full-time team ourselves. Ripley did a good job last season taking his opportunity and is showing that he is one for the future, the near future. He has a fantastic attitude and a good work ethic and he is a great addition to have on our squad.

“He is a really good skater, that’s one of the first things we noticed about him. He is confident in possession, has good puck handling skills and he is able to keep hold of the puck. He is good in the corners, he can fend for himself and he can play the body - he is a big lad. He needs to grow a bit of bulk onto his frame in years to come, but we forget how young he is.

He also has a side to his game where he can get under the skin a little and agitate people. He was instrumental in quite a few power play opportunities because he and his team mates on certain lines were out there ruffling the feathers of a few players. He always tried to do a little bit more than what he was asked and put himself in a good position to warrant a place on the team for this coming season”.

Ben also spoke about what might be in Nathan’s future;

“I think the next couple of years should be about working himself onto a regular line for us and looking at his points production because he has an eye for goal, he can put the puck in the back of the net. And if he fills out into the player we expect him to be, he can go on to whatever he wants to, Elite League or even further. The ball is in his court, we are giving him the first stepping stone as an opportunity as we have done with numerous players in the past and I hope he takes it with both hands”.

Nathan has been talking about his transition from the Steeldogs Prospect Programme in to the senior team;

“Prospects helped me a lot. I really noticed a difference in the physicality, the speed and the skill levels are so much higher and the programme prepared me as I was training with older, bigger, more experienced players.

“At first when I got in the Dogs team it was quite scary with all these big guys but I felt I settled in quite quickly. I have always liked the physical side of the game so even though it’s a lot harder in this league, it’s a lot more enjoyable. Once I got my confidence up, I felt I did ok. It was much more of a challenge but it made the games better to play in”.

He also reflected on the help he received;

“Morgs and Woody are both really good coaches, and they have been there and done it themselves, so they know what they are talking about. They don’t just tell you what to do but also why you do it like that. They explain how you can do it to the best of your ability. Everyone on the team gives you advice, they’re all really good guys. They want the best for you so they share tips”.

Nathan also shared his target for next season and beyond;

“I’d like to score more points this season and get used to playing at the higher level and improving my game. I feel we have got a pretty strong team this year from what Morgs has told me. I think we could push for top 3 and then see how we do in the playoffs.

“I want to play at as high a level as possible and play in the best leagues I can. So maybe one day I can move on to the Elite League or maybe even abroad. But for now, I need to focus on taking my chances with the Steeldogs, so I am looking forward to getting out on the ice with the guys”.

Welcome back Nathan!

We would like to welcome Ian Dobson and Europe Air Conditioning in Bradford who will be Nathan’s player sponsors. We thank them for their support and look forward to seeing them at a game.

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Roger Williams

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