Sheffield Steeldogs: Jason Hewitt sees plenty of encouraging early signs ahead of Raiders IHC NIHL Cup opener

TWO PRE-SEASON games may have brought no wins for Sheffield Steeldogs, but centre Jason Hewitt felt plenty of pride and encouragement from last weekend.

OPENING UP: Jason Hewitt, right, watches on as Leeds Knights Sam Gospel makes a glove save during last weekend's pre-season clash at Elland Road. Picture: Andy Bourke.

A 3-2 defeat at Elland Road against new franchise the Leeds Knights, was followed by a 4-3 overtime defeat on home ice to 2019-20 league and cup champions Telford Tigers.

But, as Hewitt rightly stated: “You don’t win anything in pre-season.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Aside from the mild frustation at coming off second-best on consecutive nights, Hewitt saw plenty of reasons to be cheerful across the two games, particularly as they head into a tough opening match of the season proper tomorrow when they head to London to take on Raiders IHC in the NIHL Autumn Cup.

Jason Hewitt, in action for Steeldogs during the Streaming Series. Picture courtesy of Cerys Molloy.

“It was a good weekend in terms of getting out there and playing,” said former GB international Hewitt.

“Speaking for myself, I felt a lot better than I thought I was going to be and I think as a team we looked better than what I thought we would too for the first game, so it was all fairly positive for us.

“Obviously, this weekend we need to step it up from how we were last week and we’re starting in a tough place against Raiders down in London.

“But that’s probably the best thing for us because it is a hard place to go and we’ll hopefully see that grit that we need in these kind of tough games.”

The 38-year-old has a number of familiar faces alongside him on the Steeldogs roster this season, with fellow former Hull Pirates forwards Lee Bonner, Matt Bissonnette and Sam Towner following him to South Yorkshire, with defenceman Jonathan Kirk also returning alongside Hewitt after both starred in the Steeldogs’ resounding Spring Cup success.

“It’s definitely good to see them here,” said Hewitt, their former player-coach at Hull.

“They are not here because of me, they are here because they are good players and they needed a place to play and they were available. Sam is just a great player, Biss, I’ve been playing on a line with him and we’ve got good chemistry and then Lee Bonner, who has proved himself at this level for the last three to four years.

“They are all quality additions.”