It will be a step into the unknown for defenceman Jiri Gula when he takes to the ice for Sheffield Steelers at the start of the 2018-19 season.
Steelers’ head coach Paul Thompson has been swayed by the Czech-born player’s size and physicality in bringing him to South Yorkshire, a switch which marks Gula’s first season outside his own country, having played for HC Litvinov since the age of 15.
“Jiri is an experienced player with the quality you would expect playing where he has done in the recent past,” said Thompson. “We aren’t bringing him here to be offensive, he is here to bring size and presence to the back end.
“I like the physical aspect to his game, it’s an added ingredient we were keen to bring in. He ticks a lot of boxes.
“I needed another right-handed defenceman to join Davey Phillips and Ryan Martinelli. Now that right-hand side of the D has the great size we were looking for.
Gula has made 397 league and playoff appearances for Litvinov over the last seven seasons and will arrive in Sheffield with a ringing endorsement from fellow Czech Marek Pinc, the goaltender who helped the Steelers clinch the Elite League pregular season title in 2017.
We aren’t bringing him here to be offensive, he is here to bring size and presence to the back end.Paul Thompson.
“Pincy gave us the thumbs up when we mentioned Jiri to him,” added Thompson “He has seen him play many times and emphasised the cannon of a shot he possesses. It is nice when you have someone you can trust on hand and Marek gave us some excellent feedback.”