Sheffield Steelers: Speed the key as Aaron Fox adds Canadian duo to his Elite League roster

ALL good things come to those who wait and, in the shape of Matt Petgrave, Sheffield Steelers’ head coach Aaron Fox is confident his patience will prove to have been worth it.

The 30-year-old defenceman is one of two signings announced today by the Steelers for the 2022-23 Elite League season, Petgrave being joined by power forward Mason Mitchell. Fox believes both men are capable of making invaluable contributions to his team’s bid to land a first Elite League regular season championship since 2016.

As with all Fox signings, both men share one vital attribute – they skate well and they skate fast, a must for the head coach in order for his players to contribute to the fast-paced style hockey he prefers.

In 30-year-old Petgrave, Fox is pleased to see his relentless pursuit throughout the close season paid off, the Toronto native swayed in part by the chance to study while in Sheffield.

INCOMING: Defenceman Matt PetGrave - pictured in action for the Utica Comets in March 2019 Picture: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

“Matt is a guy who I have been working on all summer and I was delighted when we finally got this done last week – I couldn’t be happier,” said Fox. “He is a big two-way defensemen that excels in all situations. He skates extremely well, makes plays and is very solid defensively.

“He likes to play a physical game, too, and he was leading the Slovakia league in points per game for defencemen last year before moving to finish the season in the Czech Extraliga. He will be a guy we will count on in all key situations.”

Steelers’ ability to add Mitchell was helped in part by a complimentary word or two from former forward Brady Ramsey, who made 22 appearances at the start of the 2017-18 season. Fox believes Mitchell possesses the necessary skating ability and speed to cause opponents problems.

“Mitchell will bring a ton of character to our group,” added Fox. “He’s an elite skater that plays physical when needed and offers a very reliable two-way game. His speed will cause problems at our level and he has a really good touch around the net.

Sheffield Steelers head coach Aaron Fox Picture: Dean Woolley

“His pace down really fits the type of style we play and he will be a guy that creates space for his line-mates. He likes to get to the hard areas and will also be a guy able to stick up for his team-mates if and when needed.”

Mitchell, 30, arrives in the UK on the back of an ECHL season which ended at the Idaho Steelheads after starting out at rivals the Cincinnati Cyclones. Overall, he played 46 times, posting 25 points, including 11 goals. He revealed he almost came to the EIHL previously, but is confident his move to the UK has come at the right time in his career.

“I did have had the chance to come over a while back, but it just wasn’t the right time and I gave it all I could over here,” explained Mitchell.

“Brady Ramsey is a good friend of mine and he told me he enjoyed his time in Sheffield and was treated well, so when I spoke with Aaron and he was so upbeat about the team and our chances of competing for a championship, it was an easy decision to make.”

POWER FORWARD: Mitchell Mason is expected to have a positive impact for Sheffield Steelers during the 2022-23 Elite League season. Picture courtesy of Tony Bailey/Cincinnati Cyclones