Big John gets the prime job for Sheffield Steelers

John Armstrong with Steelers' owner Tony Smith
John Armstrong with Steelers' owner Tony Smith

John Armstrong starts his Sheffield Steelers career this evening with a role that brings him one of the best jobs in British ice hockey.

The 6ft 3ins centreman seems likely to face off the game with the undoubted talents of Colton Fretter and Mathieu Roy on his flanks.

Sheffield Steelers 2016 - John Armstrong

Sheffield Steelers 2016 - John Armstrong

The 28-year-old centre will be looking to make a UK debut impact after a fine career in north America and Scandinavia - and his chances of achieving that have increased hugely given the work-rate and potency of his fellow countrymen on his line.

Their unit is likely to be followed into battle by Swedish centreman Andreas Valdix’s unit with terrier forwards Levi Nelson and Robert Dowd.

Then will come another all-star Canadian unit, Tyler Mosienko, working between Guillaume Desbiens and Jesse Schultz.

Steelers will pride themselves on being a four-line club this season and that last unit is likely to see another Swede Markus Nilsson working with Luke Ferrara and Jonathan Phillips.

The side, with nine new players brought in since the championship-winning side of 2015-6, take on a young Danish team in Aalborg Pirates at iceSheffield tonight and tomorrow; preparation for their CHL campaign in Sweden and Austria the following week.

It’s been a short camp, but coach Paul Thompson and his assistant Jerry Andersson will, at least, have a barometer to guide them before they head off overseas.

For this weekend though, they will hope Steelers find a rythmn, establish a pattern of lines, experiment with power play and penalty kill and most importantly avoid injury. Thompson coached at Aalborg, 2014-15, where he who had current Steeler netminder Ervins Mustukovs in goal.