BEN MORGAN has been named as the Sheffield Steeldogs’ new captain - taking over from the newly-installed coach Greg Wood.
The 28-year-old centre was named as player-coach at Ice Sheffield last week following the departure of Dominic Osman, who left before even leading his team out in a game to run new EPL rivals Hull Pirates, where he has become part-owner alongside Steeldogs owner Shane Smith.
Wood, who insists his team’s style of play will be different to that witnessed under former coach Andre Payette over the last five seasons, said he had little hesitation over defenceman Morgan’s appointment to succeed him as the team’s on-ice leader.
“I’ve got a really good working relationship with Morgs, I’ve known him since I was 11 or 12- years-old,” said Wood.
“Morgs is a natural leader and to be honest it was a straightforward decision for him to take over my role. He has great leadership skills; he will hold everybody accountable for their performances.
“The guys really look up to him – the way he trains, the shape he is in. He’s a role model for the younger kids. That’s why I want him as our captain.”
Sheffield-born Morgan, who has spent the last four seasons at the Steeldogs after previously playing for EPL rivals Manchester Phoenix and Elite League neighbours Sheffield Steelers, said he was looking forward to the challenge of his new role.
“It’s something I’m really looking forward to doing and trying to emulate the leadership qualities that Woody has had in his time as captain,” said Morgan.
“Hopefully I can help him by being an extra pair of eyes from a different position, from a defensive side of things. Woody is a forward but he’s defensive minded but I can add my perspective.
“I’ll be on the ice at different times, seeing things from different angles, maybe having a quiet word here and there and be a little bit more in charge of the defensive core and the guys back there.”
Over in Hull, Smith’s co-ownership with American forward Osman, at least ensures the city’s ice hockey community retains a team to follow following the unfortunate demise of the Bobby McEwan-owned Hull Stingrays, whose collapse saw them swiftly replaced in the top-flight by the reformed Manchester Storm.
It will be a far cry from last season for supporters, used to seeing an import-dominated line-up over the last nine years, with only four allowed in the EPL.
Not surprisingly, GB internationals Matty Davies and David Phillips - both signed for the Stingrays in 2015-16 - have opted to remain in the UK’s top-flight, having signed for Storm, where they will play under the Stingrays’ last player-coach, Omar Pacha, who was appointed by the Elite League newcomers in the same role last week.
Defenceman Tom Ralph and centre Sam Towner, both of who played for Stingrays last time out, have been announced as the club’s first signings - along with Osman - in the past few days.