Luke Ferrara believes an extra injection of speed via new recruits into Sheffield Steelers’ line up will help them defend their League title in the coming season.
And the 22-year-old winger, who iced the same number of games for the Elite League club last season on a ‘two-way’ contract with Peterborough Phantoms, hopes he will play a more significant role now he is attached to the club full time. Arena fans did not get to see a huge amount of Ferrara, who spent most of his time on the bench last term. But he certainly wasn’t complaining.
“I got more ice time than I ever anticipated last year” he said. “I thought a shift here and there would be what I’d get. I never expected to be playing in such important games. I am hoping to get more ice time this year but that is also down to my work ethic and development as a player.”
The skater said he learned a lot playing on a line with Jason Hewitt and Phil Hill. “Ben O’Connor also helped me a lot during training as well as Colton Fretter, Gord Baldwin, Jono Phillips and Mark Thomas, so it would be very hard to single anyone out individually as the whole group were amazing to learn from.”
Overall, Ferrara described the experience as “amazing.”
He said: “I knew I wanted to come back straight away. The guys were great to me, from Gord letting me stay with him when I was there to all the boys helping me and teaching me new things and making me feel as if I was 100% part of the team even if I wasn’t there that often.
“Winning the title was the high point for me, I was lucky to even get ice let along be apart of a championship winning team. Scoring my first goal was nice but nothing compares to the team glory which is what it is all about.
“Now I will be there full time I think I’ll feel more settled.
“Sometimes last year I would not know who I was playing for until Saturday morning which can be tough when you are trying to prepare for a game” said the former GB U20 asst captain.
“I’m hoping to improve only my tactical awareness; that’s one of the biggest differences between the two leagues.
“Also improving my speed and speed of thought as the team we have this year looks fast so I feel like that is the one thing that will help me to stand out and prove myself.
“I see no reason why we can’t win the title again and maybe more. We had the potential to win all three last year and from the signings we’ve had and the ambitions that Paul Thompson has told me he has for the team this year I think we’ll be challenging for every competition this year. The biggest difference will be our speed. Thommo wants everyone to be fast and our conditioning to be the best in the league.”