Teams in focus – Sheffield Steelers

The Sheffield Steelers are a professional ice hockey team playing out of the Utilita Arena, Sheffield. Formed in 1991, they currently play in the UK’s premier ice hockey league, the EIHL.  

Arguably one of the UK’s most successful ice hockey teams, the Steelers share the accolade of most EIHL titles with the Belfast Giants with 5 titles a piece.   

Named as a tribute to the city’s industrial past, the Sheffield Steelers also have an impressive fan base to match the silverware. Attendances are comfortably over 5000 people at every home match. Not to mention a healthy travelling contingent of fans for away days.  

Noticing a particular interest in sports within the city, Ronnie Wood and David Gardener-Brown identified ice hockey as a sport that could flourish within the city. Building from the success of the city’s two football teams, the Sheffield Steelers were born. This investment proved to be successful, with the Steelers recording bumper attendance. The most notable was the Manchester V Sheffield fixture in 1997, attracting a crowd of over 17,000 people. Within the Utilita Arena, a bumper crowd of 9,000 was recorded on Boxing day 2021 against the Nottingham Panthers, proving that ice hockey in Sheffield is able to compete with the more popular sport of football.     

In 2007, team owner Bob Philips sold his other EIHL interest the Cardiff Devils, in order to focus on turning the Steelers into a winning team. Following a successful stint at the helm of the team, the management and office staff walked out of the club after a “vote of no confidence” during the 2010-2011 season. Causing Bob to sell the team to Paul Ragan, the owner of the Cardiff Devils in December 2010. A period of adjustment followed, resulting in Tony Smith completing a total buyout of the team. Since buying the Steelers, Tony Smith has invested heavily in the team and facilities, improving on-ice performances and match-day experience.

Sheffield Steelers have enjoyed a sustained period of success since Tony Smith took over the team. Attracting high-quality import players such as Marc-Olivier Vallerand from the 2019/2020 season has helped to ensure that the Steelers remain at the forefront of British ice hockey. 

 

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