Sheffield Steeldogs benefitting from team effort on and off the ice

BEN MORGAN may not be the one making the final calls behind the bench for Sheffield Steeldogs these days, but he is still making a significant contribution under head coach Greg Wood.

WORKING TOGETHER: Greg Wood - Sheffield Steeldogs head coach, right, - and former player-coach and defenceman, Ben Morgan Picture courtesy of Peter Best.

The 33-year-old defenceman opted to call time on his stint as the Steeldogs’ player-coach after three and a bit years in December, with long-time friend and team-mate Wood taking over the reins, having previously been player-coach himself between 2015-17.

Wood, who had initially returned to help out as assistant coach last season, has since stamped his own mark on the team, leaving Morgan to concentrate more on his own game since the change came into effect shortly after the Streaming Series.

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But the veteran defenceman is quick to step forward when an extra pair of eyes and ears are needed, especially when combined with one of the more authoritative voices on the roster.

LEADING MAN: Sheffield Steeldogs head coach, Greg Wood. Picture courtesy of Peter Best

“Greg and me have known each other since we were teenagers,” said Morgan. “We’re really good friends and have a really open and honest dialogue with each other.

“If we disagree, we tell each other but, so far, it has been pretty good and I think we compliment each other in the room and on the bench. We try to ease the load off each other as and when but he has done a fantastic job since stepping back into the role.

“Greg is the orchestrator of what we’re doing and myself and Belly (captain Lewis Bell) and Nathan (Salem), who’s the player-assistant coach, all just chip in to support him, but obviously we do as we’re told!”

With the likes of Elite League level players such as Ben O’Connor and Jonathan Phillips, along with veterans such as Jason Hewitt and player-assistant coach Nathan Salem, there is no shortage of authority in the Steeldogs’ locker room.

HELPING HAND: Steeldogs' player-assistant coach, Nathan Salem. Picture courtesy of Cerys Molloy.

“It’s a very opinionated and straight talking room,” added Morgan. “But that is a good thing because you’ve got a lot of young lads in that changing room and every single one of them respects the players that have come in, as well as the players that have been here for a few years.”

The Steeldogs will look to maintain their 100 per cent record in the Spring Cup on Saturday when they visit Bees IHC, before hosting Raiders IHC on Sunday.

A 4-1 defeat for second-placed Telford Tigers last night to Swindon Wildcats, however, means the Steeldogs know a fifth straight four-point weekend for would be enough to ensure they win the Spring Cup, with two games still remaining.

Telford take a night off on Saturday but will be aware that by the time they return to action at home to the Bees on Sunday, they may only be able to draw level with the Steeldogs on points, should the South Yorkshire outfit win in Slough on Saturday.

Sheffield head to Shropshire on Wednesday night, by which time they could already be crowned champions.

Either way, head coach Wood is just looking for his players to continue the approach that has served them so well so far.

“We’ve just got to make sure we are switched on and professional about it,” said wood. “And we’ve got so many serial winners in that dressing roomand their mentality is to knock everything down in front of them.

“So I’m not worried on that front, it’s just about making sure we keep improving as a team like we have these past few weeks.

“We know what we need to do to be successful which is a key thing, rather than being too worried about the other teams, this week we’ve had a real focus on what we can do to win games.”

The Steeldogs welcome Raiders to Ice Sheffield on Sunday for a 5pm face-off. To buy your ticket to watch the game live online go HERE

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