SHEFFIELD STEELERS: Danny Wood must be a quick learner in coach Ryan Finnerty’s class of 2012-13

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IF DANNY Wood is a half as quick a learner as he is a skater, he’ll soon make a name for himself at Sheffield Steelers.

Despite his formative hockey years in the city at Sheffield Rapiers, Steelhawks and Scimitars, Wood’s potential performance level was something of a mystery when he signed for Steelers this Summer, as he has been away in the American college hockey system since 2005.

The speedy 23-year-old forward has much to learn - but coach Ryan Finnerty believes he is ready to do just that.

“In junior and college hockey he has been up against 18 and 20-year-old opponents but here it is grown men so it is a different game,” said Finnerty.

“That represents a steep learning curve and I have been honest from day one with Danny that he might not start off in our top nine forwards - and he accepts that. It is important that we do not throw him in the fire straight away. This is a kid we are going to work with and see how far we can take him.”

Wood has played on special teams in the pre-season and will now compete with Lee Esders for a regular place.

“He is in great shape, can skate and we will get him out there,” said Finnerty with one eye on tomorrow’s Elite League opener against Cardiff Devils at the Arena (7pm.)

Finnerty rates his team as around ‘85 per cent fit’ for the first game - the rest should come with game time, he says.