Robert Dowd and Tim Cranston – a Sheffield Steelers’ connection that bridges a generation

Robert Dowd, two goals against Guildford. Pic: Dean Woolley
Robert Dowd, two goals against Guildford. Pic: Dean Woolley

Things can change quickly in sport.

It was only a few weeks ago that Robert Dowd sunk to his knees off the ice, emitting a scream of frustration and pain, holding a shoulder injury which had reoccured again, ruining the start of his 2018-19 campaign.

It had been the last shift of the Sheffield Arena game, against Milton Keynes Lightning, and it was the last the fans saw of him for a dozen games.

Steelers lost, it was a wretched night all round.

When Dowd returned to the ice, it took him a while to get back into the swing of things- although his speed and shot-release are always assets likely to turn a game.

Then, against Guildford Flames on Saturday, he turned in a man of the match performance and two goals, his first strikes of the season.

Tim Cranston, back at the Arena last season

Tim Cranston, back at the Arena last season

On Sunday, he hit the goal-trail again, this time in Dundee Stars' rink, and added an assist for good measure.

He won't have known this at the time - put his weekend goal output has put him in reach of a special milestone.

According to Michael Devine, who runs the www.steelersstats.co.uk service, Dowd needs four more goals to pass legendary forward Tim Cranston and become the fifth all-time Steelers goal scorer.

Canadian Cranston notched 209 goals in 306 appearances, mainly on the famous Les Millie-Tommy Plommer line. His spell at Sheffield finished in 1998.

Great Britain regular Dowd has totted up 206 strikes in 519 outings.

The pair share a north east hockey heritage, too.

Dowd, 30, is a Teessider who came through the Billingham hockey system, while Cranston, 55, played for local side Cleveland Bombers and Durham Wasps before going to Sheffield, where he ended his career, other than a brief fling at Edinburgh Capitals.

As a dual national, Cranston played with distinction for GB too.

Dowd has some way to go to catch the other Steeler bigger hitters - Steve Nemeth, (356) Ron Shudra, (329) Jeff Legue (266) and Ken Priestlay (254.)

But he would swap any personal achievement for the points this coming weekend - Sheffield travel to Glasgow Clan and Fife Flyers for games on Friday and Saturday.