Fresh from having impressed for the Sheffield Steeldogs in the Spring Cup Hewitt was one of 10 picks made by Steelers’ head coach Aaron Fox from a Draft of British players in early March.
It meant a return to the club where he was second in the all-time list of appearances at 682 games – now 685 – and where he won three playoff trophies and fourleague championships before a 10-year stay ended in 2016.
During his time with the Hull Pirates that followed between 2016-20 – largely as player-coach – Hewitt developed a prolific scoring habit, twice breaking the 100-point barrier before the coronavirus pandemic brought the 2019-20 season to an early close.
And while he doesn’t expect to come close to the same points-per-game ratio over the next few weeks, he is revelling in the freedom to express himself with which he and his fellow forwards have been entrusted by Fox.
“I like the way Aaron coaches, he’s definitely a players’ coach –he wants players to make plays when they have an opportunity,” said Hewitt, who registered his first point in the competition when scoring a third period goal in the 7-2 demolition of Coventry Blaze on Wednesday.
“Going back a few years, I was expected to just chip it in and go and get it and play the body a lot, but his style of hockey is a fast pace and he wants people to make plays and, for me, that is a big relief – I love it.
“It’s nice not to kind of overthink things and just play your game. Obviously, I’ve been trying to play that style for the last few years. But this is a different level and while I won’t have as much success points-wise with it, knowing the coach is giving you the freedom to play that way is a nice feeling.”
With eight imports per roster for the four-team Series, it is some way short of the depth of quality usually associated with Elite League teams.
But, having been used to facing off with just two imports for the last four years, Hewitt knows he is back skating at a noticeably higher level.
“Eight imports is a lot more than the two I’ve been used and when you add in the fact that most of the GB players are playing either with or against you, the level is certainly a step up.
“So it’s challenging, but that’s what I want. It is a lot quicker than what I’ve been used to, but I think I’m getting there and holding my own, so I’m happy so far.
“It was nice to pop one in the other night – just to get that monkey off my back, I guess.
“I’m getting the opportunities with the coaches so I can’t complain – I’ve just got to hold up my end of the bargain really.”
Manchester Storm returned to the top of the Elite Series standings last night with a 5-4 win in overtime against Coventry.
The Steelers take on Nottingham tonight (7pm) before facing Manchester tomorrow (7pm).
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