Sheffield Steeldogs enjoying a strong year under the leadership of Ben Morgan

Ben Morgan, successful captain. Pic by Peter Best.
Ben Morgan, successful captain. Pic by Peter Best.

When the old EPL folded and Sheffield Steeldogs joined the NIHL, the team found themselves without a coach and losing many of their best players.

It wasn't anything anybody had wished for at iceSheffield.

However the change of league has proved to be a real positive for the team.

Coach Ben Morgan has moulded his band of familiar faces and younger players into a team who are already in a cup final and who this weekend could clinch the NIHL North League title.

The player/coach didn’t imagine that his rookie year would go quite so well.

He said: “At the start of the season, I saw back to back games with Hull on the final weekend and I thought ‘imagine how good it would be if that was going to be a title decider’ - I never really thought it would be!

“From about November when the League started to take shape, I had a funny feeling it would come down to this final weekend. I am glad it has in a way, even though people say ‘wouldn’t you rather have wrapped the league up by now?’

"But it is these weekends, these sorts of games, that are the reason that you play.”

Morgan saw the positive signs from early on; “We set our stall out early in the season and even that first game in Telford was a message to ourselves that ‘we mean business’.

"Then we went to Solihull the following day and got a win. This was a real wake up call for the boys to see exactly how hard it was going to be. We lost a game in overtime against major rivals and then battled to a win that showed we weren’t just going to pick up points by turning up - it was always going to be tough”.

With the National Cup final to come, the focus now is on a home and away double header with Hull for the league crown this Saturday and Sunday. For the coach, this is a chance to exceed all expectations.

"We have to start with a win on Saturday; this is what we are preparing for. We have to prepare for 60 minutes knowing we have got to get one more goal than them. We have to do a professional job, make sure we win the game on Saturday, and that then sets up Sunday for the title decider.

"Whatever happens from here on is a bonus - we have achieved our team goals with a top 3 finish, getting to a cup semi-final and by bringing young British players through and giving them meaningful ice time. If we can win the league then that would be amazing”.

Part one of the title decider is at iceSheffield on Saturday, face-off at 19:45.