Sheffield Steeldogs coach Greg Wood keen to go up against Leeds Knights rival Dave Whistle

SHEFFIELD STEELDOGS boss Greg Wood is looking forward to pitting his wits against counterpart Dave Whistle tonight - somebody he regards as an ‘elite’ coach.

Sheffield Steeldgos head coach, Greg Wood Picture courtesy of Andy Bourke/Podium Prints

The Steeldogs get their pre-season underway with a visit to Elland Road Ice Arena tonight, before hosting 2019-20 NIHL National league champions Telford Tigers 24 hours later.

It follows three weeks of preparations for the South Yorkshire team who, thanks to some quality summer additions, are seen as being among the leading contenders for silverware this season.

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The Steeldogs have benefitted the most from the decision by Hull Pirates’ owner Shane Smith not to ice a team this season.

Leeds Knights' head coach Dave Whistle

No fewer than five Pirates have made the switch from East Yorkshire, although two of those - centre Jason Hewitt and defenceman Jonathan Kirk - were part of the Steeldogs’ roster that cruised to the Spring Cup title on the back of a 100 per cent win record.

Forwards, Lee Bonner, Sam Towner and Matt Bissonnette have followed Hewitt and Kirk to Ice Sheffield, helping form a formidable-looking line-up under the guidance of head coach Wood, who is looking forward to the challenge of going up against the experienced Whistle for the first time tonight.

“Let’s not beat about the bush, Dave Whistle is an elite level coach and could probably walk into any Elite League team as a coach as well,” said Wood. “From a league point of view, it’s fantastic to have him coaching at this level. For a young coach like myself, I’m excited to pit myself against him.

“As a coach it gives me a fresh challenge, 100 per cent. There’s nobody who puts more pressure on me than what I put on myself so, if anything, it’s driving me to be more organised and to try and get the best out of my group.”

Wood was at Leeds on Sunday to witness two teams he believes will among the title contenders this season.

“Leeds and Swindon are going to be there or thereabouts so it was a good chance to go and see them both,” said Wood. “Let’s not kid ourselves, it wasn’t the most attractive game to watch, there wasn’t an awful lot of quality but the speed of it was good.

“It was a very competitive,end-to-end game and it could have swung either way, so I was impressed with what I saw and it gives us food for thought going forward.”