Robert Dowd ready to step up the intensity with Sheffield Steelers in Elite Series

AS thankful as he is for the opportunity to have restored his physical and mental strength in Italy over the past five months, Robert Dowd admits he is relieved to have finally been able to step out on ‘home ice’ in Sheffield this week.

ON HOME ICE: Robert Dowd was relieved to step out on to the ice at ICe Sheffield this week. Picture: Dean Woolley.

The 32-year-old GB international winger was one of five ‘protected’ players chosen by Sheffield Steelers for the Elite Series which gets underway at Nottingham’s National Ice Centre today. But, given his playoff commitments with Eppan/Appiano in Italy’s second tier, there was a danger Dowd would not be available for part of the five-week, behind-closed-doors tournament back in the UK.

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As it happened, Dowd’s Italian post-season was ended at the first hurdle by rivals Varese, meaning he was free to return home to South Yorkshire.

BACK AT IT: Robert Dowd, right, with Tanner Eberle during practise at Ice Sheffield. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Dowd, who first laced up for the Steelers back in 2008, found himself heading to Northern Italy for some desperately-needed ice time after seeing the 2020-21 Elite League season cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

His need was perhaps greater given he had been out of action longer than most players, sidelined since the previous December due to a shoulder injury.

In 16 regular season and playoff games for Eppan, Dowd was able to restore both his physique and confidence to full working order, scoring 28 points, including eight goals.

One big reason for the need to head to Europe for employment was to ensure he would be fighting fit for this year’s World Championships, which sees Great Britain head to Latvia next month.

Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Aaron Fox. Picture: Dean Woolley.

And now Dowd is looking forward to stepping up the intensity over the next two months, with the GB training camp following soon after the conclusion of the Elite Series.

“It obviously isn’t the way you want to end the season the way we did, losing 3-0 in the payoffs, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time there,” said Dowd. “They were very nice people and treated me right throughout my whole time there.

“In terms of myself, I got exactly what I needed from going over there, back to where I needed to be physically and mentally. It was perfect for me in that respect.

“But it is very nice to be back home in Sheffield. It seems like we’ve got a good team together, everyone has been working hard and putting in the hours.”

Dowd is impressed with the roster put together by Steelers’ head coach Aaron Fox, given the limited time and pool of players he was faced with.

“The practices we’ve had so far have been a really good pace, which is really encouraging,” added Dowd. “The intensity is the big thing which has leapt out at me in practice already this week.

“It has been really intense, really fast and it will be a good building block heading towards the GB preparations to try and get up to that top speed that we’ll need to be at when we get out to Riga.”

All the Elite Series games will be screened via live streams. For more details and the various packages available head HERE

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