John Armstrong may be one of five import forwards waiting to get off the scoring mark in Elite League play for Sheffield Steelers - but the big man’s contributions have been enormously influential so far.
That’s the view of Robert Dowd, who is buzzing with personal confidence after scoring twice on Sunday for the champions.
Dowd doesn’t play on Armstrong’s line so has had the chance to appraise him from the bench after four league games and the team’s early Challenge Group group endeavours.
Steelers haven’t had a lot of 6ft 3 ins centremen in their ranks in the last few years and the Canadian’s reach and presence has played a big part in the start of the season which saw Sheffield win five games before losing to Cardiff Devils.
“He is a very good, smart player” enthused Dowd. “Normally you will get a small, skilled centreman or a big one who is about stature and strength. But he is a mixture of all of those things. He is a well-rounded player who is made for us and this league.”
Armstrong and Dowd hope that Sheffield can redeem themselves before Arena fans on Saturday when Fife Flyers arrive for the first time this season.
“It wasn’t great when we lost last Sunday, and on Tuesday when the boys arrived for training we were all a bit flat, there was not a lot of talking, people were just there to do the business” said Dowd.
“We were angry. We have worked on our transition and defence and we will be ready for the weekend.”
Steelers have suggested Levi Nelson and Ben O’Connor will be back.
A Nelson return on Dowd’s line would certainly be a benefit to the British winger.
“We have got a deep team but those two are huge players for us” said Dowd.
“I have no idea whether they will both be back, Levi still has a brace on so maybe a bit fragile. We’ll just hope for the best.”
The 2015-6 League winning banner will be raised on Saturday and Dowd thinks this year’s squad is superior to last year’s.
“I think we seem a better team, faster and sharper - but only the future will tell if we end up with the same trophy.”