AFTER A frustrating start to life at Sheffield Steelers, forward Matt Marquardt is beginning to find his feet.
A shoulder injury during a pre-season game against Nurnburg Ice Tigers left the 30-year-old nursing a shoulder injury which ensured he missed the first five competitive games of the season, along with a handful of other warm-up fixtures.
But since returning two weeks ago, the Canadian-born winger is gradually making his presence felt.
Marquardt, who lines up for Steelers in a Challenge Cup double header against Nottingham Panthers and Braehead Clan this weekend, has posted three points in his last four games and is finally beginning to feel up to speed with his team-mates.
“I put a lot of hard work in during the summer to be ready coming in here and it is never fun to go down early in the year,” said Marquardt.
“But, at the same time, I had that hunger and the desire to get back through my rehab and making sure I didn’t miss too much time.
“With the help of the doctors and the physio staff here we were able to cut a bit of the time back on the timeline for me to come back – it was hard as hell when I was out.
“But I’ve never taken this game for granted, I love playing and I’m excited to be back out on the ice.
“It is incredibly frustrating being out. I love watching hockey – just not my own team. Hockey players are a proud breed and you always want to contribute and help your team out.”
The Steelers have been bolstered this week by the arrival of aggressive Swedish Andreas Jamtin, while also welcoming back defenceman Scott Aarssen and winger Jonas Westerling, who missed both games against Coventry last weekend.
Steelers’ head coach Paul Thompson is looking for an improvement after the 5-1 defeat at Coventry. Marquardt cites the direct approach of his new boss as one of the attractions in making the switch in the summer.
“He’s very direct and that is something I respect and something you’re looking for when you’re trying to find your next destination,” he added. “It’s good to have a guy like that behind the bench.”