Ice hockey: Why Rob Dowd quit ice champs Sheffield Steelers...

Rob Dowd: Joining Belfast Giants next season.      Picture: Rik Raynor
Rob Dowd: Joining Belfast Giants next season. Picture: Rik Raynor

ROB Dowd quit Sheffield Steelers because he is looking for a “challenge”, writes Bob Westerdale.

Dowd, 22, is joining Belfast Giants, despite the fact Steelers will face their own challenge of defending the Elite League title next season.

“I’m really excited to join the Giants” said Dowd, who scored for Great Britain yesterday.

“I’ve had three great years in Sheffield but am ready for a new challenge. Belfast is hungry for more championships and I’m looking forward to being part of a winning team there.”

Giants boss Doug Christiansen’s swoop ruined the plans of Sheffield’s new coach Ryan Finnerty, whose first priority was to re-sign Sheffield’s Brits.

Christiansen said: “Rob is a key signing. He strengthens our core of British players and will bring a strong offensive game to our team.

“Having him along with Craig Peacock and Mark Garside, we now have a trio of very talented young British players. I am looking forward to working with all of them.”

Dowd is just the kind of player Finnerty had in mind, last week, when he spoke of wanting “young, hungry” players in his class of 2011-12.

The Teessider scored in all three Play Off games for Sheffield and was the fifth top British point scorer in the Elite League.

* Great Britain strolled to two wins over the Netherlands at the weekend.

In the first match, at Nottingham’s NIC on Saturday, they won 5-2.

Yesterday, they improved on that, in Hull, winning 7-2. Sheffield Steeldogs netminder Ben Bowns was man of the match and Dowd scored after being teed up by his former club-mate Ashley Tait.

Steelers skipper Jonathan Phillips also netted.

* Meanwhile, Ben Simon has not ruled out the possibility of playing in the Elite League for another club, The Star can reveal today

The former Steelers player-coach quit the league champions last week because he felt that the player budget was too small to cope with his salary and those of the rest of the squad.

On the day he quit, owner Paul Ragan declared that Simon was pursuing ‘asprirations’ in north America.

But Simon told The Star: “I have got nothing lined up and I would not restrict myself to one country. If there is a good opportunity whether it is Great Britain or anywhere else, I would entertain it.

“No matter what else has been said, I am not limiting myself to any specific region.”

Simon has considered delaying going back into the coaching side of the game.

“It might be fun to go back to being a player training, playing hard, respecting the coach in charge and playing whatever role he was assigned” he said.

Simon was replaced by Finnerty, who first joined Steelers half way through the 2006-7 season, before later heading for Wales.

In the team that year were Tait, Joey Talbot, Rod Sarich, Phillips, Jason Hewitt and Mark Thomas, all players he’s likely to try and re-sign for 2011-12.