Sheffield Steeldogs move on without Nathan Salem as Leeds Knights move to plug the gaps

SHEFFIELD STEELDOGS head into their weekend double-header against Basingstoke Bison without forward Nathan Salem who has returned to former club Peterborough Phantoms.

SWITCH: Natham Salem, above, has returned to former club Peterborough Phantoms. Picture: Cerys Molloy.
SWITCH: Natham Salem, above, has returned to former club Peterborough Phantoms. Picture: Cerys Molloy.

Salem requested to leave earlier this week and his move back to Cambridgeshire has been pushed through in order for him to feature in the Phantoms’ home game against Telford Tigers.

The 30-year-old former Hull Pirates centre scored 141 points in more than 100 games for the Steeldogs, first joining the club in 2018 and spending two full seasons at Ice Sheffield where he played a major part in the club winning the behind-closed-doors Streaming Series and Spring Cup during the Covid-affected 2020-21 campaign.

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BUSY WEEK: Leeds Knights head coach Dave Whistle Picture: James Hardisty.

After securing a two-year deal with the Phantoms, Salem – who has also played for Telford as well as Newcastle Vipers in the Elite League – said: “I didn’t expect to be back here but I am really excited to get back in a Phantoms jersey and be back with the boys.

“I’m looking forward to playing for Slava (Koulikov, head coach) again and helping the team to win. Hopefully, we can get back in the running for some trophies.”

Salem will hope to repeat the form he showed during his previous spell at Peterborough during the 2017-18 season when he scored 63 points, including 29 goals, in 41 games.

“He was a really big player for us in his season here before,” said Phantoms coach, Slava Koulikov. “I think he’ll bring good leadership to our young team, as well as hopefully being a threat in the offensive zone.”

MISSING: Leeds Knights' centre Matty Davies is out for at least two weeks. Picture: Andy Bourke/Podium Prints.

In a statement released on Friday afternoon, the Steeldogs said: “Following discussions, the club agreed to let Nathan leave with immediate effect. We’d like to put our thanks on record to Nathan for his efforts on and off the ice during his time with the club.”

Steeldogs’ coach Greg Wood and his players make the long trip to Hampshire looking to bounce back from the 6-3 defeat at Bees IHC last Sunday, their first of the NIHL National regular season.

It will be Steeldogs’ second encounter of the season against Ashley Tait’s team, who inflicted a first defeat of the season on Wood’s team when leaving Ice Sheffield with a 4-3 win in the Autumn Cup on October 3. The two meet again in South Yorkshire on Sunday (4.30pm face-off).

Dave Whistle is hoping to have three new faces in the Leeds Knights line-up for tonight’s NIHL National clash with Raiders IHC at Elland Road.

Veteran centreman Matty Davies is out for at least two weeks with a lower-body injury, while Cole Shudra is not expected back until mid-December at the earliest after suffering an upper-body injury in Peterborough two weeks ago.

Defenceman Jordan Griffin is another player not expected back until December, a car accident keeping him out for two weeks already and also ruling him out of representing GB Under-20s at the World Championships in Romania before Christmas.

Another absentee this weekend will be fellow defenceman Ben Solder, who has been called back up by Elite League parent club Manchester Storm for their Challenge Cup double header against Sheffield Steelers, the first of which saw the South Yorkshire club prevail 7-4 in Altrincham last night. He is also expected to be with Ryan Finnerty’s team for Sunday’s league clash at Guildford Flames.

In terms of new faces, goaltender Niks Trapans, who head coach Whistle had hoped to register in time for last weekend’s double-header against Swindon Wildcats, is now cleared to play as back-up to No 1 goalie Sam Gospel this weekend.

Two other new faces are set to get their Knights’ debut, too, with Storm forward Harry Gulliver signing on a two-way deal and going straight in to face Raiders today.

Whistle has also turned to the GB Under-18s squad again to further add to his options for the weekend, with 17-year-old centre Carter Hamill - a former Belfast Giants Juniors team-mate of Knights’ forward Mackenzie Stewart and most recently having been signed to SNL outfit Dundee Comets - anticipated to be signed in time to make his Knights’ debut.

Whistle was working on Hamill’s registration on Friday afternoon in the hope of getting it completed in time for Saturday.

Elsewhere, Sheffield Steeldogs will look to bounce back from Sunday;s 6-3 defeat at Bees IHC when they travel to Basingstoke Bison today.

Greg wood’s team will then return home in the small hours from Hampshire to play host to the same opponents at Ice Sheffield (face-off 4.30pm).