SHEFFIELD STEELERS have quickly covered for the loss of injured forward John Armstrong by making the New Year's Eve signing of American winger Eric Neiley.
The 25-year-old should be cleared to play in this weekend’s crucial double-header for the Steelers against Elite League title rivals Belfast Giants.
Centre Armstrong is out for up to 12 weeks with a damaged hand sustained during a fight in last week’s 5-0 win at Nottingham Panthers.
Neiley, with seven AHL games to his name, switches from ECHL outfit Adirondack Thunder, having so far racked up 22 points in 30 games, including 10 goals.
Head coach Paul Thompson said the deal for Neiley had already been confirmed before the injury to Armstrong with the Steelers being one of the few EIHL teams not currently carrying a spare import.
“We fought off competition from around our own league and Europe to secure this signing, we are excited he is on board with us," said Thompson.
“Eric is a player who scored 27 goals last year and he isn’t coming here to make the numbers up. He adds some youth and grit. He scores his goals in the dirty areas. He knows the places to go and I felt we needed a little more of that.
"We had agreed the deal with Eric before John’s injury. We are one of the few teams not carrying a spare and felt we needed cover – as it happens we needed it sooner than we thought."
With Neiley's deal already having been agreed before the festive double header with Nottingham, according to Thompson, the five-time EIHL champions are thought to be looking at making another signing to cover for the loss of Armstrong, who could miss the rest of the regular season.