Champion choice

Ice Hockey: Latest news, reports and more.
Ice Hockey: Latest news, reports and more.

STEELERS’ goalie John DeCaro says the club’s two recent acquisitions could be the deciding factor in clinching the Elite League championship.

Forward Luke Fulghum and defenceman Nick Duff have brought intensity and experience to the line-up and their positive effect on the chemistry of Sheffield’s side could ensure a successful defence of the title.

“Signing both these players has been a boost to the club,” said DeCaro. “It was kind of shocking that we got Fulgy; he was Coventry’s best player and to see them lose that talent to us was unexpected.

“At this time of the season to see him here is tremendous as it put us up an extra gear.

“He has got a good shot, scores goals but the biggest thing is that he is gritty, he throws hits and will muck in, in the corners.

“Duff is another guy that we needed,” added the American netminder. “Francis Trudel (whom he replaced) was a good hockey player and we have a lot of players who can help the team offensively but he is a guy who takes pride in his defensive zone and stays at home. He is not vocal, but he leads by example and guys have to give him respect.

“He stepped right off a plane and played really well in his first game at Cardiff - now we are waiting to see how he plays on the bigger (Sheffield) ice. Both these players could help us bring in that championship - absolutely.”

DeCaro, who played in the AHL, said he believed Ryan Finnerty’s influence will be greater once he retires from playing next season - as revealed by The Star on Tuesday.

“Watching from the bench gives you a better perspective,” he said. “You see little things going on you don’t see and can’t control on the ice.

“He will be able to dictate exactly what he wants his players to do.”