Sheffield Steelers: Brandon McNally prepared to do whatever it takes to help deliver ultimate Elite League prize for Steelers

WHATEVER it takes. That is the approach Brandon McNally will be adopting at Sheffield Steelers this season.

The 30-year-old American-born forward was one of three new import forwards announced by the Steelers on Wednesday morning as signed for the 2022-23 Elite League campaign and will arrive in South Yorkshire later this month as a winner.

McNally was part of the Cardiff Devils team that lifted the play-off championship last season, denying Belfast Giants a treble in the process, Adam Keefe’s side having already won the regular season league title and the Challenge Cup, the latter at the expense of their South Wales rivals.

In all, McNally made 51 appearances for the Devils last time out – including four in the CHL – and contributed 15 goals and seven assist. He also racked up 77 minutes in penalties, evidence of his ability and willingness to play physical as and when required.

HIT MAN: Brandon McNally celebrates scoring for Cardiff Devils against Guildford Flames last season. He hopes to win more silverware with Sheffield Steelers during the 2022-23 Elite League campaign. Picture: Dave Williams/EIHL

But Steelers’ head coach Aaron Fox has brought McNally in believing he has the all-round game to contribute for the Steelers all over the ice. For his part, McNally is willing to do whatever his new coach asks of him in the hope his efforts will bring the same kind of success that it eventually did for the Devils.

“You play the role that’s given you,” said McNally. “In Cardiff they wanted a fourth line guy, so that’s what I did. In Italy they needed a first line guy and I did pretty well there scoring 50 points in Vipiteno. I think Aaron knows he is getting an experienced and versatile guy that will do whatever is asked of him.

“Sheffield is a great place to play with incredible fan support, I was keen to join after experiencing the atmosphere in that arena last year and when things didn’t work out in Cardiff, I set my sights on Sheffield.”

Having left North America behind in the summer of 2018 – with more than 60 AHL and almost 150 ECHL games on his cv – McNally did indeed make an instant impact in Europe when signed by Italian team Vipiteno in the AlpsHL, his 50-point tally including 16 goals from 41 league and play-off appearances.

Sheffield Steelers' head coach Aaron Fox Picture: Dean Woolley/EIHL/Steelers Media.

The following year saw him split his time between AlpsHL rivals Asiago and Val Pusteria before a move to Denmark in 2020. He ended that Covid-hit season in the Swedish third tier with Karlskrona HK before the Devils came calling.

After tasting success at the National Ice Centre with Cardiff, McNally went on to represent his adopted Italy at the World Championships in Finland in May, bagging a goal and two assists in seven group games, although it wasn’t enough to stop them being relegated from the top tier along with Great Britain.

In five appearances against the Steelers last season, McNally scored two goals and two assists, but it was his all-round contribution which clearly impressed his new coach.

“I don’t believe in bringing in one-dimensional guys,” said Fox. “To be honest, Brandon being a guy willing to stick up for his team-mates and answer the bell when needed came second to me when watching his game back. Before his injury, he was playing key minutes and contributing for Cardiff at both ends of the ice.”