NIHL National - Alex Graham proving star turn for Sheffield Steeldogs

LEADING MAN: Sheffield Steeldogs' Alex Graham.'  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
LEADING MAN: Sheffield Steeldogs' Alex Graham.' Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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HE may have only just recntly celebrated his 17th birthday, but Alex Graham has long passed being a ‘prospect’ for Sheffield Steeldogs.

The teenage forward is in his second season with the NIHL National outfit having made his senior debut for them on his 16th birthday last January.

He made a significant impact for the Steeldogs, scoring 21 points – including 12 goals – in just 23 appearances.

This season – after signing an apprenticeship deal with Elite League Sheffield Steelers and then heading back to the second tier on a two-way deal – he has blossomed further, so far amassing 37 points, with 17 of them goals, from just 31 appearances.

Add to that the fact Graham was one of Great Britain Under-20s leading lights at the recent world championships in Lithuania – scoring four goals and three assists in the five group games – and it is easy to see why Morgan is excited about the teenager.

“He’s proving a big talent,” said Morgan, whose team face-off against top two Swindon Wildcats and leaders Telford Tigers.

THE TIME IS NOW: Leeds Chiefs' player-coach, Sam Zajac, battles with Telford's Brandon Whistle last Sunday. Picture courtesy of Steve Brodie.

THE TIME IS NOW: Leeds Chiefs' player-coach, Sam Zajac, battles with Telford's Brandon Whistle last Sunday. Picture courtesy of Steve Brodie.

“I don’t even see him as a young prospect any more, he is one of the key forwards for us and he knows that and he relishes that.

“He proved it out in Lithuania for the Under-20s and he’ll probably prove it anywhere because he just loves playing hockey.

“From two-and-a-half years ago when he first started training with us, he has been nothing but a hard-working individual, a breath of fresh air.”

Elsewhere, Hull Pirates will head to Telford tonight before hosting second-bottom Bracknell Bees tomorrow, Jason Hewitt’s team looking to build on the four-point weekend enjoyed from last weekend’s wins over the same two teams.

I don’t even see him as a young prospect any more, he is one of the key forwards for us and he knows that and he relishes that.

Ben Morgan

Bottom-of-the-table Leeds Chiefs hope to build on last week’s win at Telford when they host Milton Keynes Lightning and Swindon.

Player-coach Sam Zajac admitted wins were needed now in order to stand a chance of bridging the 11-point gap between themselves and Raiders, who occupy the eighth and final playoff spot.

“We need to be pretty much perfect for the rest of the season to stand a chance of making the playoffs,” admitted Zajac.

“The guys are aware of that and we know how much of an uphill task we have left ourselves.”