Victorious Sheffield Steelkings blow away international opposition

Written by Katya Witney

The Sheffield Steelkings were victorious in Antwerp on Sunday and became the first winners of the Northwest Europe Para Ice Hockey League.

The team beat the French side, Rouen Dragons, 4-0 in the final to claim the trophy without conceding a goal in the tournament.

Player and coach of the Sheffield-based side, Jake Oakley, said of his side’s performance: “We’re delighted to take home the first ever Northwest Europe Para Ice Hockey League trophy, it feels so good to have this reward for all the hard work everyone on the team has put in.

“It’s been a fantastic experience on and off the ice and we’re all really proud to be going home with the trophy but also the knowledge that this event will help grow the sport across North Europe and hopefully encourage more people to get involved in para ice hockey.”

The team travelled 12 hours on a coach from Sheffield to Antwerp in Belgium on Friday to play matches against the Antwerp Phantoms, Rouen Dragons, and The Polar Bears who were made up of players from the Dordrecht Polar Bears and Amsterdam Tigers.

In the round robin format on Saturday the Steelkings beat all three sides scoring 13 goals before they reached Sunday’s final.

This is the first time the tournament has been held and it aims to help teams in Northwest Europe to grow the sport and attract more teams and players to national leagues.

Speaking before the tournament, Mr Oakley said: “Even though we have not played this first one yet we are talking about how we would run the second one and where it would be. The plan is to get more teams involved and get more players interested in para ice hockey on the world stage.

“We want to go there to come back with the trophy and in doing that it is great for British sport because we can talk about and promote that experience. We can say look, what we are doing you could be involved in.”

The team is based at Ice Sheffield and participates in the British Para Ice Hockey League, which it won in 2019. It features male and female players who participate in a fast-paced and highly skilled team sport.

The club was featured on Channel 4’s Beijing 2022 Paralympic coverage to raise the profile of the sport.

Defender on the team, Mike Rhodes, said: “Ice hockey is a niche sport and we are a niche sport inside a niche sport so we want to do whatever we can do to raise the profile of the game and develop new players and get more people interested.”

Since its establishment in 2014, the club has attracted more and more players and in 2019 it set up a development squad called the Sheffield SteelStings.

Written by Katya Witney

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