PAUL THOMPSON said he was left with no option but to move quickly and bring in Finnish forward Juha Koivisto as emergency injury cover for Sheffield Steelers.
The Steelers have been through a rigorous pre-season schedule during the past month, but seem to have paid an early price having picked up a raft of injuries.
Having already seen new import Matt Marquardt sidelined, the Steelers also added Mathieu Roy and Levi Nelson to the injury list, along with defenceman Zack Fitzgerald, following two tough, exhibition games against Coventry Blaze last weekend.
It’s unclear which, if any, of those four will play a part in Saturday’s competitive season-opener against Manchester Storm in the Challenge Cup, a game followed 24 hours later by an early visit to South Yorkshire from arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers, also in the cup.
The situation left Thompson with little choice but to approach Steelers’ owner Tony Smith with a request to get some emergency cover in, with 33-year-old Koivisto joining on an initial four-week contract.
“We have been hit with injuries and needed cover this weekend,” said head coach Thompson. “We are extremely lucky to find someone like Juha at such short notice.
“He’ll join us as injury cover and that gives us time let our playing roster return to full strength we hope.”
Koivisto has played 341 games in the Finnish top-flight Liiga and joins Steelers having spent the past four seasons playing for HPK.
He will meet his new team-mates for the first time on Friday morning before being thrown into Saturday’s season-opener across the Pennines against Storm, now coached by former Steelers’ player and coach, Ryan Finnerty.
“We had to move promptly,” added Thompson. “I thank Tony (Smith) for allowing this move to go ahead as quickly as it did.”
We are extremely lucky to find someone like Juha at such short notice.Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Paul Thompson.