MATT CLIMIE says he anticipates a tough battle to secure the No 1 goaltending spot at Sheffield Steelers.
The 35-year-old Canadian flew into the UK on Tuesday morning after agreeing a deal with the South Yorkshire club, who are looking to overcome a tough start to the 2018-19 season which has left them second-bottom in the Elite League standings.
The arrival of the former NHL-er - Climie made five appearances in the world's top league - takes the Steelers' goalie contingent to three, with current No 1 Jackson Whistle working alongside back-up Brad Day.
And as one player entered Sheffield Arena, another went through the exit door - following on from last week's departures of forwrards Chris Lawrence and Jiri Gula. Defenceman Jiri Gula found himself released, two days after the return of GB international Ben O'Connor.
It remains to be seen how head coach Tom Barrasso intends to utilise all three netminders, but Climie is not expecting to start Wednesday night's home encounter against Coventry Blaze (7.30pm) chiefly because he has not played a competitive game since leaving HC Innsbruck at the end of last month.
After making almost 250 appearances in the AHL, Climie spent two years in the DEL with Straubing Tigers before a switch to Slovakian outfit HKM Zvolen last season yielded just 11 appearances, before a further switch saw him make a single appearance for EBEL outfit HC Bolzano . Then came a summer move to Innsbruck which yielded only three appearances before his September departure.
After meeting his new coach and team-mates at Sheffield Arena on Tuesday afternoon, Climie said he was keen to get up to speed in order to help the Steelers turn their season around.
"Yes, I’m expecting to battle for the start, but that is just goaltending," Climie told The Yorkshire Post. "You have to compete for your job and you don’t want to become complacent and the biggest thing about it is that competition brings out the best in anybody. I am up for the challenge.
"I’m going to be prepared and I’m going to battle and do whatever I can to be successful and it would be great if we can win some games and make a run for the championship.
"I’ve had some friends who have played in the British league and I’ve always heard good things about it, including Sheffield and how it is a top, top organisation and how they are used to winning and competing for trophies.
"The team hasn’t had a great start but it has opened up a door for me to come in and give me a chance to play and I hope that I just give the guys a chance to compete every game and for us to put some wins together.
"I don’t think I’m playing tomorrow, I’ve been off for a few weeks so I’m going to get skating and get that rhythm back and get prepared and when coach tells me that I’m starting I will make sure I’m ready."