PAUL THOMPSON admits Sheffield Steelers may have got “lucky” after landing Swedish centre Yared Hagos.
Thompson was forced into the market after Tyler Mosienko’s shock decision to quit the Elite League champions last week in order to return to playing in mainland Europe.
But Steelers’ head coach Thompson has moved quickly to replace the influential Mosienko and believes the South Yorkshire club have landed a top quality player in the shape of 33-year-old Hagos, who was a round 3 draft pick for the Dallas Stars in 2001.
The Swedish-born centre never played in the NHL, but has gone on to forge a successful career both in his homeland and North America, including 132 games in the AHL and 438 appearances in Sweden’s top flight.
He has also represented his country 20 times at senior level.
“We’ve been very fortunate to pick up such a quality player at such short notice,” said Thompson. “He has played at an incredibly high level in his career – in Sweden mainly, but he has also left home comforts behind to try his hand in North America and Germany.
“We are getting a very good all-round player, a competitive centre who I hope will be able to take care of business at both ends.”
Hagos is expected to be in the Steelers’ line-up for this weekend’s trip to Scotland, which sees them face Edinburgh Capitals and Dundee Stars.
**Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips, meanwhile, has been forced to withdraw from the Great Britain squad for this week’s two friendlies against Norway.
The two sides meet at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham on Tuesday night (7.30pm) and in Cardiff’s Ice Arena Wales on Wednesday (7.30pm).
Phillips picked up a lower body injury in Saturday’s 9-5 home victory over Coventry at the Sheffield Arena, he was unable to play the following night when the two teams met at the SKY Dome Arena.
Thompson said “It’s a blow for Jonno, he is a proud captain of both club and country. I know he was keen to play in the games against Norway.
“We have to make sure though that he receives the best treatment possible in order that he can be back in the line up as soon as possible.
“He is having treatment daily with our medical staff – we will take it day by day.”
While Phillips sits out the next few days in a bid to return to action for the Steelers this weekend in a Scottish double against Edinburgh and Dundee, Hull Pirates’ Nathan Salem recevied his first call-up to the national team.
The 25-year-old forward was made Pirates’ captain this season by player-coach Dominic Osman and has led the team in a promising start to what is their only season.
The East Yorkshire are third in the English Premier League standings with Salem contributing seven goals and 10 assists in 17 games.
Sheffield-born forward Matt Towe, now back in the Elite League for a second spell at Belfast Giants, has also earned a call-up to the squad and will play in Wednesday’s encounter in South Wales.
Former Sheffield Steelers’ defenceman Danny Meyers, now with Guildford Flames in the EPL, has also earned a recall.
Not icing in the next two days are Russ Cowley, Matty Davies, James Griffin, Stephen Murphy, Jonathan Phillips, Zach Sullivan, Ashley Tait and Sam Zajac.