DEFENCEMAN Chad Huttel is the import to be rested by Sheffield Steelers this weekend, as they take on Fife Flyers in an Elite League double header, writes Phil Harrison.
The first-year pro has logged plenty of ice time since his arrival in August, particularly in recent weeks following the long-term loss to injury of Rod Sarich.
His omission - initially just for tonight’s home encounter - sees a return for forward Neil Clark and means Sheffield Steeldogs’ defenceman Lee Haywood will get a further opportunity to impress at a higher level for the city’s premier team.
The 23-year-old Doncaster-born blue liner has already made a couple of appearances in Steelers colours this year and is available this weekend due to the Steeldogs not playing until after Christmas.
“Chad’s logged a lot of minutes in recent weeks and I think that it’s important, more so for a first-year pro, to sometimes sit on the side and watch a game, take it all in. We‘ll decide on Sunday whether to change anything around,” said Finnerty, whose team play host tonight (7pm) before undertaking a six-hour trek north to Kirkcaldy tomorrow.
“We’re going to give Lee more ice time than he’s had with us before. He’s done well when he’s come in before for us and I think it’s important to bring local players through as much as you can and build up their experience at this level.”
In the only previous meeting between the two teams, Steelers strolled to a 5-0 win at the Motorpoint Arena back in early October.
It has proved a difficult first season in the Elite League for Fife, who are firmly rooted to the bottom of the table. But there have been signs of improvement in recent weeks and last week
‘s signing of recently-sacked Dundee Stars coach Dan Ceman has added much-needed experience and quality to their line-up.
Hull Stingrays will have to wait until Sunday to try and snap a six-game losing streak when they welcome Cardiff Devils to East Yorkshire, but are boosted by the return of key defenceman Dmitry Rodin, who has missed the last seven games with a knee injury.
Their last win came against Cardiff back on November 23, the first time the Stingrays had won in Cardiff under player-coach Sylvain Cloutier.
Fifth-placed Cardiff, last year’s regular season runners-up, will arrive in Hull in a bit of a slump themselves having lost four of their last six and having played on Saturday night at home to Edinburgh Capitals.
“It’s good news that we have Dmitry back,” said Cloutier. “He is a big part of our team and is a calming influence at the back end.”
Hull follow up Sunday’s encounter with Cardiff with another home game on Wednesday when they welcome Edinburgh Capitals to Hull Arena. Cloutier’s team have yet to beat the Scottish club, who edged them out in Scotland last Sunday by winning 7-6 after a shoot-out.
Cloutier is scouring the market for a replacement for recently-departed captain and defenceman Josh Mizerek, but isn’t too hopeful of signing anyone until the New Year.