ROBERT DOWD has wasted no time in reminding Sheffield Steelers of his value to the team since returning from a short injury layoff – much to the delight of his coach Aaron Fox.
The 31-year old winger missed five games until returning to the fray with a goal and an assist in Saturday night’s handsome 6-2 win over Fife Flyers.
He then grabbed a goal in the second leg of the Challenge Cup quarter-final, second leg encounter at Manchester Storm on Wednesday night, the 3-3 draw easily enough to see the Steelers through 8-5 on aggregate to ensure a last four showdown against Glasgow Clan next month.
None of this, of course, came as any surprise to head coach Fox, who quickly became aware of the GB international’s qualities after being appointed in the summer.
“He looked real good in those days leading up to that first game back,” said Fox. “He was buzzing around the place and that’s just what he kind of brings to the team. He brings that goalscoring-first mentality and he just plays with so much pace.
“It’s nice to have him out there for us because he helps us out a ton.”
Captain Jonathan Phillips agreed that it was good to see his long-time team-mate back out alongside him on the ice, particularly as he brought so much to the table other than his goalscoring ability.
“I don’t think you ever want to lose a player like Dowdy,” said Phillips. “He is shooting the puck as well if not better than he ever has, but the big thing with him is not just his shot, but how hard he works away from the puck.
“The way he back tracks and takes pucks away on situations where he has no right to win them but he wins them. He’s that competitive which is one of his huge strengths and he is still one of the top forwards in the league.”
The Steelers won’t have to wait until January to face-off against the Clan, this weekend offering a double-header which sees Fox’s team play host tonight before heading to Glasgow tomorrow.
He’s that competitive which is one of his huge strengths and he is still one of the top forwards in the league.Jonathan Phillips on Steelers’ team-mate Rob Dowd
Zack Fitzgerald’s team have won the two previous encounters, holding on for a 4-3 win in Sheffield in September before beating the Steelers 8-5 on home ice last month, a game which Fox says produced one of his team’s “worst performances of the season.”