Opportunity knocks for energetic Esders

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LEE Esders is more than happy to take on extra responsibility following Colin Shields’s sudden departure from Sheffield Steelers.

GB forward Shields parted ways with the club on Tuesday after struggling to settle in South Yorkshire, leaving head coach Ryan Finnerty to declare that Lee Esders would be given more ice time to help fill the gap.

Often a bit-part player since switching from Hull Stingrays last year, Esders has continually impressed Finnerty through his willingness to learn and unwavering commitment.

Extra responsibility had already come his way as part of one of the team’s penalty killing units and the promise of more minutes on the ice – due to the Steelers being left with only nine forwards – has delighted the 24-year-old.

“I’ve always been up for a challenge, even when I was down as the 10th or 11th forward on the roster,” said Esders, whose team face an Elite League double header against the Dundee Stars this weekend. “It’s always good to hear your coach saying good things about you – it means you must be doing something right.

“I feel like I’ve become a better player since coming here. People have gained more confidence in me which has led to me going on the PK unit.

“Now I’m down as the ninth forward I need to look at improving my points contribution. That comes with confidence, though, which is helped by being given more time out on the ice.”

Steelers head into tonight’s home encounter with Dundee looking to arrest a mini-slump which has seen them lose three of the last four games.

Finnerty – who is keeping a watchful eye out for a suitable replacement for Shields – will be keen to avoid a repeat of his team’s last home match when they lost 2-1 to Edinburgh Capitals, with Esders believing the Steelers also need to find a way of scoring more goals.

“We know what to expect from Dundee, but we’ve got to get into the dirty areas and work hard because we’ve been struggling to score goals.” said Esders.