Sheffield Steelers

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Sheffield Steelers
Sheffield Steelers.svg
City Sheffield, England
League Elite Ice Hockey League
Founded 1991
Operated Rink Corp Ltd
Home arena Motorpoint Arena
Colours

Orange, Black, White

              
Owner(s) England Tony Smith
General manager United Kingdom
Head coach Canada Gerad Adams
Captain Canada Steven Goertzen
Media England David Simms
Championships
Regular season titles 1994–95, 1995–96, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2008–09, 2010-11
Autumn Cups 1995–96, 2000–01
Challenge Cups 1998–99, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2002–03
Playoff championships 1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2003–04, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2013–14

The Sheffield Steelers are a British ice hockey club, from Sheffield, England. It was formed in 1991 (see 1991 in sport) and plays its home games at the Sheffield Arena. It is currently a member of the Elite Ice Hockey League. The club's main (title) sponsor is Sheffield Window Centre.

History[edit]

Sheffield Arena: home of the Steelers

Ice Hockey existed in amateur form in Sheffield, but the sport began its return to an era of arenas and stadium size crowds with the opening of the Sheffield Arena in 1991 and the creation of the Sheffield Steelers — the ice hockey team that was to occupy the new arena. The Sheffield Arena was built as part of the city's facilities for the staging of the World Student Games, and is a sizeable stadium originally seating 8,500 and located close to the city centre.[1] Ronnie Wood and David Gardener-Brown were at the helm as the Marketing Director at the club and set about promoting ice hockey to a city raised on the footballing success of Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday. Wood had a specific target, seeking to attract children and families to the city's new sporting Arena. As he stated in an interview in Liam Sluyter's A Game of Three Halves (Mainstream Publishing, 1998) "we were sending guys around schools. We wrote to all the schools in Sheffield and said "Bring the kids, see the Arena, sit down, experience the whole thing" ". They also began taking players to local football matches and parading them around the ground with mascots in an attempt to pull in football fans too. Another marketing ploy was to give certain players nicknames to help the crowd associate with the new (and as yet unknown) players. This was an idea hatched by the announcer Dave Simms.[citation needed]

The Steelers were named in honour of Sheffield's industrial past, much like the American football team of the same name based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the sharing of nicknames are merely a coincidence. The American football team actually predates Sheffield's team by 58 years and was already popular worldwide due to their dominance in the National Football League in the 1970s. Sheffield and Pittsburgh are considered sister cities.[2]

The Sheffield Steelers were the first ever fully professional ice hockey team in Great Britain, and O'Brien suggested that there was a lot of resentment from the followers of other hockey teams who saw them as a "cheque book hockey club" able to buy whoever they chose.[citation needed] Likewise, Sluyter questions the authenticity of the majority of Steelers fans in the club's early days. Though he admitted that it was a generalisation, Sluyter suggested hockey fans of teams like Cardiff, Fife and Nottingham were ice hockey fans first and foremost, while Steelers' supporters were only Steelers fans, and knew very little of ice hockey outside of Sheffield. However, it made little difference as Sheffield began breaking several British ice hockey attendance records, and in March of that year added an extra 1,200 seats to the Arena to meet the growing demand.

Sheffield Steelers had begun their first ever season in English Division One of the British Hockey League. One year later Sheffield Steelers won promotion into the British Premier League, before going on to win this in 1995 — the last team to do so before the formation of the new British Ice Hockey Super League (ISL) that year.[citation needed]

On Sunday 3 December 2006, the Steelers played in their 1000th ever game.[3] The game was against the Basingstoke Bison at the Hallam FM Arena, for which special orange jerseys had been made for the match.[4] The Steelers lost the game 3–2[5] and the jerseys were all auctioned off at the game.

2000–2001[edit]

In the 2000–01 campaign the Steelers completed a memorable Grand Slam, comprising the Benson & Hedges Cup, League, Challenge Cup and Playoff Titles. The only other team to win all four trophies in one season were the Ayr Scottish Eagles who completed this feat in the 1997–98 season. The Challenge Cup Final was held in the new Odyssey Arena in Belfast in front of a full house of 7,300. Ayr were the opponents and Steelers won 4–2.

The Steelers are the only team to have won 7 trophies in the Superleague era. The team's playoff success came against the London Knights who they defeated 2–1 in a very tight game at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham to take the Playoff crown.

2001–2002[edit]

After a turbulent start to the 2001–02 season, the players managed to turn things around and go on to retain the playoff title they had won the previous season. They overcame the London Knights (3–2) in the semi-final after going 0–2 down early on and beat the Manchester Storm (4–3) in the final. With time running out the Steelers were losing 2–3 before Chris Lipsett tied the game to send it to overtime. This failed to separate the teams so penalties were required. Steelers netminder, Ryan Bach, saved all five Manchester attempts whilst Brad Lauer was successful for the Steelers. This was again played at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham in front of a full house. This victory made the Steelers the only club to successfully retain the Superleague title.

2006–2007[edit]

The 2006–07 season had highs and lows, as well as a long unbeaten run, it also included a long losing streak which had some fans questioning the Coach, Matsos. However Matsos made a very difficult decision to cut fan-favourite and enforcer Brett Clouthier to bring in Ryan Finnerty[6] who also became a fan favourite with his fiery and skillful play. Coach David Matsos completed his rookie year taking the Steelers to a fourth place finish in the league and a place in the Challenge Cup Finals.[7] Although it was an unsuccessful season in terms of silverware for the Steelers, the club made strides off-ice and broke an Elite League Attendance record against the Manchester Phoenix with an attendance of 7,339.[citation needed]

2007–2008[edit]

After a trophyless season the Sheffield Steelers looked on towards the 2007–08 season. They tied Coach David Matsos down to stay for another year, and preparation began for the new season.[8] Team Owner Bob Phillips and his wife sold their other Elite League club the Cardiff Devils in order to concentrate on building the Steelers.[9]

Matsos made a quick start in the off-season resigning his core of British Players, which were, Captain Jonathan Phillips,[10] Defenseman Mark Thomas,[11] and forwards Warren Tait[12] and Jason Hewitt.[13]

Matsos also snapped up two imports from the previous season, Goaltender Jody Lehman[11] and the coaches player of the season Ian Manzano.[14]

Rumours were that the other British Forward Phil Hill would not be returning and these rumours were almost clarified when Matsos signed top British forward Ashley Tait (brother of Warren) who had captained the Coventry Blaze in the previous season and lifted the League and Challenge Cup; as well as runners-up in the British Knockout Cup and the semi-finals of the Elite League Playoffs.[15]

The Steelers re-signed fan favourite Ryan Finnerty[16] and two days later announced the signing of Steve Munn from the Norfolk Admirals (AHL) and Munn was the first player to take advantage of the Steelers links with the Sheffield University where he will study for an MBA during his two-year stay at the club.[17]

Jeff Legue was announced as a new Steelers signing,[18] shortly followed by Randy Dagenais who will be the second player to study for an MBA while at the Steelers.[19] Rod Sarich's return was confirmed[20] and Joe Talbot was revealed as a Steelers player,[21] leaving Matsos with just one spot left to fill on his roster. Jeremy Cornish was announced as the final Steelers signing on 16 July and would fit into the Steelers third line and become the club's new enforcer.[22]

On 18 July 2007 it was announced that Liberata would the club's title sponsor for the 2007–08 season.[23]

On 18 January 2008 Sheffield Steelers announced the signing of former fan favourite Dan Tessier who last season scored 99 points. Dan left Sheffield at the end of last season tho pursue a career in Germany's DEL with Duisburg Foxes but was released after only 19 games with a very poor points record of only 6 point. he then went back to Canada with the Kalamazoo K Wings of the IHL, but then asked for his contact to be terminated to join a team in England.

On 12 March the Sheffield Steelers announced that they had secured head coach Dave Matsos to a 2-year contract extension which would keep him at the club until at least the end of the 2010 season.

The Sheffield Steelers won the Elite League Playoff Championship after beating the Coventry Blaze 2–0 in the final with goals from Johnathan Phillips and Dan Tessier. The Steelers beat Manchester Phoenix 5–4 and drew 4–4 in the Quarter Finals to win 9–8 on aggregate. The Steelers then beat the Cardiff Devils in the Semi Final 2–1 before progressing to the final.

2008–2009[edit]

After winning the Playoff trophy in April, Dave Matsos started his recruitment for the coming season with the goal of winning the league title. Captain Johnathan Phillips was first to put pen to paper on a new contract for the coming season, which will be his third with the club. This signing was followed by the announcement of the return of Ryan Finnerty, as well as confirmation of Steve Munn and Randy Dagenais returning to complete their 2nd year of 2-year deals, as well as their University Course.

Rumours were circulating that Jody Lehmann would not be offered a new contract, and that the Steelers were looking at bringing Christian Bronsard back to the club for his second stint.

On 6 May the Steelers announced British Defenceman Mark Thomas had signed a new 1 year contract, this would be the first of two announcements for the Steelers in this week. The second announcement was announced on Thursday and it was Assistant Player/Coach Doug Sheppard who was announced as the returnee after signing a new 1 year deal.

The club announced they had started contract negotiations with Goaltender Jody Lehmann about a return but had set him a deadline for his answer. A few days later it was announced Jeff Legue would be the latest of last years team to sign a new deal.

Goaltender news arrived, but not on the starting goalie front, it was announced by the club that backup goaltender Davey Lawrence would not be returning, instead he would be signing for Telford Tigers in the English Premier League in order to gain a place as a starting goaltender.

Matsos continued his resignings and the club announced Jason Hewitt had signed to return for the 2008–09 season. On the same day the Sheffield Star published an article stating that Robert Dowd had signed a full-time contract with the Steelers from the Sheffield Scimitars, after playing 14 games for the club last term.

The club later confirmed that Jody Lehman would return to Sheffield for another season, tasked with the job of bringing the league trophy back to Sheffield.

The Sheffield Star reported that a return for Joey Talbot was looking less likely after contract negotiations were stalling, and later reported that a return for Dan Tessier, was also unlikely. Rod Sarich was also subject to rumours that he would not be returning, However Radio Sheffield were reporting he had re-signed, and the paperwork was just being completed before an official announcement was made.

The announcement of top scorer Joey Talbot returning to the club was announced on the same day the club announced Dan Tessier would not be returning to the club. Joey Talbot was the club's top scorer in the previous season racking up 39 goals and 36 assists for a total of 75 points. Dan Tessier had previously returned for his second spell at the Sheffield club and the previous season it was announced he would be present for the 2008–09 season, however the club had decided to go in a different direction, which was expected to be in the size department.

A day later the club confirmed Ian Manzano would also leave the club as they looked for some more strength and grit in the defence department. Coach Dave Matsos stated the league was shifting towards more size again and this led to his decision to release Manzano.

After weeks of negotiating the club finally made a deal with Rod Sarich to return for the upcoming season after he rejected offers from clubs in Denmark. This left the Steelers with only 2 more positions to fill, an import forward and an import defencemen, who would be the replacements of Dan Tessier and Ian Manzano.

Nathan Gillies was announced as the Steelers last forward signing for the upcoming season, having played the last four seasons in the East Coast Hockey League for the Charlotte Checkers and Phoenix Roadrunners.

The signing for the Steelers was announced as Scott Basiuk from Elite League Rivals Manchester Phoenix. Basiuk joins the club on a two-year contract and will study for an MBA as part of the club's partnership with the Sheffield University.

David Matsos announced a 10th forward as a final signing for the upcoming season, The tenth forward would be Andrew Sharp, who signed a two-way contract with the Sheffield Scimitars. Sharp would take the enforcer role for the upcoming season.

Brad Cruikshank was signed by the Steelers after Nathan Gillies suffered a hyper extended elbow putting him out of action for roughly 6–8 weeks, Cruikshank had played in Basingstoke for the previous 3 seasons and had scored 30+30 for 60 points in the 2007–08 seasons along with 260 penalty minutes. Gillies returned to Canada in January 2009 to continue his playing career, after turning down a coaching job with the Steelers for the rest of the season.

The Steelers endured a slow start to the season and were knocked out of the Knockout Cup and Challenge Cup early, but kept to a simple game plan relying on their strong set of defencemen and good goaltender Jody Lehman. Eventually this strategy paid off as the Steelers moved up the league table, and then grabbed 1st place after a league campaign that has seen them lose just 3 times in regulation. It is this same dogged style that has seen them outplayed in many of their matches by other teams, but the defence has kept them in it and the offence has grabbed a late winner. Towards the end of February following the All-Star game (to which 5 Steelers players and their coach were selected) the Steelers hold an 11 point gap over 2nd place with under 10 games to play, which leaves their hopes of winning the league championship in their own hands.

On March 8, The Steelers beat the Newcastle Vipers 4–1, taking their points tally to 83 after 50 games. The Coventry Blaze were in action at home to Hull, and nothing less than a win would be enough to keep their title hopes alive. Coventry lost the game 4–1, handing the league title to the Sheffield Steelers.

After winning the league title, the Steelers turned to the Playoffs, the title they won the previous year. In the Quarter Finals they managed to see off the Edinburgh Capitals and make it through to the Finals Weekend. The Semi-Final was played against the Cardiff Devils, which was a physical affair and the Steelers managed to see off the Devils by winning 5–3. The final was to be contested between the Steelers and their rivals the Nottingham Panthers, as expected it was an excellent physical battle with the Steelers running out 2–0 victors and doing the double.

2009–2010[edit]

The 2008–09 season was a great success for the Steelers, recording the League and Playoff double and Dave Matsos was keen to build a team that could emulate the season's success, and retain many of last years stars.

Jody Lehman was the first Steelers player to announce his departure for the more lucrative European leagues, signing in Denmark for Aalborg. Many more rumours of the departing stars started, with Jeff Legue, Joey Talbot, Steve Munn, Rod Sarich and Randy Dagenais were the favourites to find new clubs abroad. Legue and Talbot both resigned for the Steelers, joining assistant coach Doug Sheppard, and imports Brad Cruikshank and Scott Basiuk, along with the British core of Captain Johnathan Phillips, defenceman Mark Thomas, Jason Hewitt, Rob Dowd, and British goaltender Dan Green.

The rumours of returnees continued, with rumours stating fans favourite Ryan Finnerty would not be offered a new deal, although the local media were reporting an offer had been made that did not meet Finnerty's demands. Finnerty later claimed no deal had been offered and he was looking for a new club. The Steelers top scorer from the previous season British forward Ashley Tait also stalled on a new deal before taking up an offer to play in Italy, leaving the Steelers without one of the league's top British players. Matsos moved quickly to snap up 21-year-old Sheffield lad Ben Morgan who would play Defence to conclude the British core. This would leave the Steelers with two British defencemen.

The goaltending position was also a topic of much debate as to who would fill the massive shoes left by Jody Lehman. Trevor Koenig and Kevin Reiter were the favourites, both being offered deals, before Kevin Reiter was announced as Jody Lehman’s successor.

Rod Sarich was the next man to commit his future for the Steelers, after four seasons at the House of Steel and an outstanding year earning him the league's Defenceman of the Year, Sarich received lucrative offers from both Europe and North America before signing for the Steelers. Coach Dave Matsos stated he had a new role in mind for Sarich this year, which would involve more playing as a forward as opposed to a defenceman.

The Steelers then announced Dan Green as returning as back up goaltender which was found strange by a majority of the fans as it was made public by the local media several weeks before. The club also announced that Canadian Centre Chad Hinz would not be joining the club, this reignited rumours of a possible return for fan favourite Ryan Finnerty. Randy Dagenais was the latest announced returnee, another import who turned his back on lucrative European offers to return to the Sheffield Arena for a third season.

Kevin Bolibruck was announced as returning to the Steel City for a second stint having played for the club during the 2003–04 season. Speculation had been ongoing for months that Bolibruck was about to return to the club. Bolibruck, who has many years experience in the AHL is regarded by many Steelers fans as the club's best ever defenceman. Two days later the club announced the final signing to conclude their roster. The signing was Jeff Hutchins, who had played for Elite League rivals Newcastle Vipers in the previous season. Hutchins had been a resident of the UK since 2005, playing for other rivals such as the Coventry Blaze and the Belfast Giants.

On August 10 it was announced that the club would drop 'Sheffield' from their name, and using their title sponsor before the Steelers brand. Therefore the Steelers would become 'The Field Electrical Steelers' for the next two seasons. The club later announced that after upsetting a large proportion of the fan base they would reinstate Sheffield into the club's name.

After a bad start to the season which saw the Steelers pick up a mere 7 points from 10 games, three new faces were introduced to the lineup. Ex Newcastle Viper goalie Andrew Verner was brought in to replace the injured Kevin Reiter who was sidelined for an estimated two months with a groin strain and hernia. Ex-AHL Defenceman Stephen Wood was brought in to replace Scott Basiuk who was also out with an injury. Matt Hubbauer was the third new face to be introduced; a Centre who played the last three seasons in the German second tier would replace Jeff Hutchins who was released by the club after joining in the summer.

As the Steelers continued to struggle at the bottom of the table, an opportunity for a break from the League came along in the form of the Continental Cup. The Steelers travelled to Bolzano for the third round group stage of the competition. The Steelers came out of the group stages with 3 wins from 3 games, beating The Hague, Maribor, and Bolzano, winning all three games by one goal. The Steelers will now travel to Grenoble in January for the Euro Finals.

It was announced Scott Basiuk was fit and ready to return to action in early January after being sidelined since September through injury, this meant the club would have to release an import to make room for Basiuk to return to fit their budget, Randy Daganais was looking like the likely candidate to be cut from the Steelers Roster after it emerged earlier in the season he had been told he could leave the club after Joe Dustin was drafted in to replace him until Dustin received a late injury. However, it emerged Stephen Wood would leave the club due to personal issues back in the United States.

The Steelers poor form continued throughout the New Year, although the team showed signs of quality with an 8–0 thrashing of Edinburgh, as well as claiming a Bronze medal at the IIHF Continental Cup in Grenoble. As well as the highs, there was plenty more lows, including a 5–2 home defeat at the hands of the Hull Stingrays, which was the first time the Stingrays had beaten Sheffield in Sheffield in the club's history, a performance coach Matsos labelled as 'the most embarrassing performance he had witnessed' as the head coach of the club. He promised more Roster changes to improve the team, and also stated in the local media he hoped the club bosses would keep him around a little longer as he would turn things round.

Jonathan Zion was signed as a replacement for the injured Rod Sarich who was sidelined with a broken foot. A week later the Steelers announced that Mike Sgroi had been signed, a no nonsense power-forward that could score points, fight, and entertain. Brad Cruikshank was released to make way for Sgroi, and was subsequently signed up by the Coventry Blaze to replace their injured Captain, Adam Calder.

In a season the Steelers will want to forget, what moment which will live long in the fans memory will be the retirement of fan favourite Ron Shudras #26 jersey at the Arena on the final home game of the regular season against rivals Nottingham Panthers.

The good news continued to flow for the Steelers and on 16 March the club announced that fan favourite, league winner and two time playoff champion Steve Munn would return to the club after spending a year playing in the Asia League Ice Hockey

On 20 March in the Steelers final home league game of the season Ron Shudra's number 26 shirt was retired and raised to the roof, in a game the Steelers would go on to win 6–2 and also break the Elite League attendance record with an attendance of 8634

The Steelers season ended in the Quarter Finals of the Play-offs after being knocked out by the Cardiff Devils. The Steelers lost 4–2 in Cardiff, before being beaten 5–3 in Sheffield the following evening.

2010–2011[edit]

The 2010–11 season would start early for the Sheffield Steelers, after finishing 5th place in the league in the previous year and being knocked out in the Quarter Finals of the play-offs, everyone concerned with the club wanted to move on.

The first signings which had been signed and announced during the 2009–10 season were Kevin Bolibruck, Rod Sarich, Steve Munn, and Jonathon Phillips

April the 6th saw the Steelers announce what was regarded as the worst kept secret in British Ice Hockey, the return of Ashley Tait to the club who signed a 2-year contract. Tait is a huge step forward in the Steelers rebuilding process, a top quality brit who finished second in the club's scoring during the 2008–09 campaign and a player the club failed to replace after he signed in Italy.

The club later announced Jerramie Domish had signed an initial 1 year deal with the Sheffield club after a solid first year in the country with the Newcastle Vipers. The club fought off interest from other Elite League and European clubs for Domish's signature, a signing which excited coach David Matsos and received the seal of approval from returning Steve Munn.

The club's re-signings took a further boost as the club announced young British forward Robert Dowd had resigned for the 2010–11, Dowd had a stand out first year for the club in 2008–09 scoring 44 points in 50 games (23+21) but had a noticeably harder year in 2009–10. Dowd was the centre of speculation linking him to a move to the Belfast Giants, the news of his resigning is sure to be a relief to the Steelers supporters who see him as a quality young British player full of potential.

On 18 May the Steelers announced Jason Hewitt would return for his 6th season with the club, after weeks of speculation that the new Braehead Clan were interested. The Steelers later announced completion of their defence with the return of British Defence man Mark Thomas, who will also be in his 6th season with the club next year.

Matsos then announced he had re-signed Joey Talbot, who stated he was ready to put last years miserable season behind him and help the club reach the top again and win more silverware. Talbot stressed the importance of resignings such as Steve Munn and Ashley Tait, who were with the Steelers for 2 years prior to last season, and both part of the Steelers double winning team.

After weeks of speculation in local media that the Steelers were trying to sign Brad Voth from Elite League rivals, Cardiff Devils, the Steelers attempts failed as it was announced Voth had re-signed for the Devils for the upcoming 2010–11 season which would be his 6th for the Cardiff club. Voth had been public enemy number one with the Steelers fans for various incidents during the past few years.

On 27 May, the Steelers announced that 'associate' company Yorkshire Sports Ltd. had gone into liquidation, due to being unable to pay debts due to unpaid sponsorship fees from the past two years, most notably from the 'title' sponsor Eurologix during the 2008–09 season. The club announced that a new management company would be set up, and the Steelers future would remain stable.

The following day the Steelers announced their new starting goaltender, a signing coach Dave Matsos called 'a big gamble' as the club looked to rectify last years poor performance. The new goaltender was 25-year-old Latvian, Ervins Mustukovs, who had played the previous season as the back-up goalie in the KHL, which is noted as one of Europes best leagues. Mustukovs also was the back up goalie for the Latvian Olympic team during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The Steelers completed their defensive core, by announcing British goaltender, Geoff Woolhouse, would become the Steelers backup netminder. Ironically, the Steelers sign Woolhouse from rivals Nottingham Panthers, as their back up goalie Dan Green goes the opposite way. Woolhouse was born in Sheffield and a Steelers fan, before moving to Nottingham to play for the Nottingham Lions in the ENL in 2001. Since then Woolhouse has moved up the ranks and joined the Panthers in 2003 and has been there for the past six seasons.

After a few weeks without any further announcements on player signings, Dave Matsos announced there would be three signings in a week. The first of these signings was the return of Jeff Legue, who was seen as a pivotal part of the Steelers in previous seasons, and was one of the few players who avoided any serious negative comments in the club's previous poor season. The club announced the next two signings would be new imports to the club, Matsos also announced that following the two imminent announcements, the club would have one more roster spot to fill, leading fans of the opinion he would go with only 10 import players, when other top clubs were filling the league quota of 11, fans were of the view this would be detrimental to the Steelers performances in the upcoming year.

The Steelers next two signings, were Derek Campbell and Neil Clarke. Campbell was signed from rivals Coventry Blaze, after also having stints at other English clubs including Manchester Phoenix (during their Elite League seasons) and the Newcastle Vipers. Neil Clarke had a split year during the 2009–10 campaign in the American Central Hockey League, scoring 19 points in 48 games as well as 134 penalty minutes. Coach Dave Matsos also quashed rumours of the club only going with 10 imports, stating the club would fulfil the 11 import roster slots and were just taking their time looking for the right players.

Management walkout[edit]

On 9 July 2010, Steelers fans were in shock at the morning press release. It was announced that there had been a "walk-out" of Steelers management and office staff, with the reason being a "Vote of no confidence" against Owner Bob Phillips. Coach David Matsos, General Manager Mike O'Connor and rink announcer David Simms were among these, as well as Office manager Betty Waring. As Steelers fans took in the breaking news, sadness turned to anger towards Bob Phillips, with many fans pleading for him to sell the club to another party. David Simms announced in his interview with BBC Radio Sheffield that if Phillips was to sell the club, and the new owners wanted everyone back, they would return. The fan base was split however as it began to emerge that all was not what it seemed and the people Phillips had left in charge to run the club had questions to answer.

On 14 July 2010 the Elite League published an announcement stating the Steelers had been put up for sale by Phillips, and they were assisting in finding new investors and aiding with the transaction. The announcement came after insistence by Phillips that he would not sell the club, although after much anger and upset from supporters, including many cancelling cheques for season tickets and talks of boycotts it appeared Phillips was ready to relinquish control over the club.

Ragan Ownership (2010-Present)[edit]

On the morning of 22 December 2010, the Steelers announced that the CEO and owner of the Cardiff Devils, Paul Ragan, had finalised acquiring the rights to the Sheffield Steelers ice hockey club from the Phillips family. Successful businessman Ragan became known on a national level after featuring twice on the Channel 4 programme “The Secret Millionaire”, when he went undercover to find worthy families to help and support in Derby.

Ragan said of his purchase “Sheffield Steelers, much like the Devils, have enjoyed mammoth success in the British game and my intention is to provide this great club with the organisation and commercial processes it needs to return to the glory days. I am an entrepreneur at heart and my speciality is acquisition, fast growth and returning companies to profit. My focus at Cardiff has been to stabilise, structure and develop the commercial side of the business whilst giving our Head Coach the best possible chance to bring on-ice success to the club.”

Ragan announced that his first job as owner was to secure Head Coach Ben Simon for the 2011-12 season, which was quickly done the following day. Simon, who previously played 81 NHL games as well as 469 in the American Hockey League, has been well received by all Steelers staff, players and fans since arriving at the Motorpoint Arena club in August.

Ragan said "I have spoken with Ben and told him that I want him as my first signing for next season. I've been very impressed with him both on and off the ice this season. He is a quality player but more so a quality leader and individual. I want Ben to mould a Steelers team on his vision and work ethic. Whilst we haven't sat down and signed pieces of paper, we have agreed that the Steelers is where Ben will be next season. We need stability here and knowing that we have Ben as our coach up until a minimum the end of next season is fantastic news for all at the club."

Simon, who at the time of writing had scored 12 goals and 21 assists before Christmas, said "I've spoken with the new owners and they seem to be very happy with the job I am doing which is always nice to know. I'm delighted that they want me to return. I've told them I'm happy to do so and after the holiday period we will sit down and move forward."

Steelers fan must have been thinking Christmas had come a few days early in 2010; not only had the club got a new owner and their Head Coach back for at least another year, Mr. Ragan topped everything by announcing that the Steelers legendary match night announcer David Simms would be returning to his 'spiritual home in the Whitehouse' at the top of the Arena, starting with the Boxing Day battle against arch rival Nottingham. Simms had been match night announcer for the club every season since 1991, and was a founder of the club. ‘Simmsey’ accepted an offer from Ragan to return to the club as both announcer and media liaison officer and will start working for the club once again with immediate effect. Since leaving the club in the summer, Simmsey had expanded his role as a TV Commentator for Sky Sports, by presenting live games and weekly highlights of the games around the League. Simms will continue to do this throughout the rest of the season.

Simmsey, who was part of the walkout in the summer in protest of previous owner Bob Phillips, said "It's been a horrible 4 months away. This is the best Christmas present I have ever had and I can't thank Paul and his team enough for giving me the opportunity to return. The job is now a simple one - create the best atmosphere in the League on game nights. We will do that and it will start Boxing Day for the game against the Panthers, what a great day to return.

The Steelers were at the top of the league for the majority of the season, battling it out with the Cardiff Devils who appeared unstoppable at one point. The Belfast Giants had struggled with injuries but after returning to full health put together a strong challenge and left all three teams in with a chance of winning the league on the final day of the season. The Sheffield Steelers had back to back games against the Braehead Clan and won the league after a 7-2 victory at the Motorpoint Arena. The Steelers were tied on points with Cardiff but won the league having more regulation time wins.

2011–2012[edit]

After winning the League Championship in the previous year under rookie player/coach and ex-NHL player Ben Simon, the off season should have been a nice and relaxed time, but in true Steelers style there was to be plenty of drama. In the previous months new owner Paul Ragan had announced ticket prices for the upcoming season would rise, and the wage budget decrease, upsetting many of the club's fans. Ragan attempted to strike a new deal to bring Ben Simon back to Sheffield, but after several rounds of negotiations, Simon decided he would not be renewing his contract and announced he would be leaving Sheffield, stating the reduced wage budget would not allow him to bring in the right standard of players. Paul Ragan stated the contract offer would have made Simon the highest paid player in British Ice Hockey, and Simon stated this would reduce the amount of budget allocated to other areas of the team.

Within a matter of days the Sheffield Steelers announced their third coach in as many seasons, Ryan Finnerty a club favourite would return to become the new player/coach after spending past two seasons in Cardiff. Finnerty was not in the hot seat long before star British player Robert Dowd announced he would be leaving the club to play for Belfast in the next season. Dowd was the 4th highest points scorer in the British players in the league in the 2010/11 season, and would be a big blow to the Steelers team.

After the loss of Robert Dowd, Finnerty was quick to secure the re-signings of the remaining British players on the Steelers team, and announced the return of Ashley Tait, Jonathan Phillips, Jason Hewitt and Mark Thomas in a week. The following week Finnerty re-signed rookie forward Tom Squires who would return to the club for his second season.

2011–2012[edit]

Lost to GMB Nottingham Panthers in the Challenge cup.

2012–2013[edit]

Lost to GMB Nottingham Panthers in the Challenge Cup. Lost to the Hull Stingrays in the Playoff quarter final and didn't make it to the playoff weekend.

2013–2014[edit]

Won the EIHL play off final with a 3-2 win over the Belfast Giants. Staged at the Nottingham NIC, the Nottingham Panthers were absent from this event after defeat at the hands of Braehead Clan.

Current roster[edit]

2013–14 EIHL season

Goaltenders
No. Player Catches Acquired Place of Birth Joined from Press Release
1 Canada Frank Doyle L 2013 Guelph, ON, Canada 2 year deal from Fassa, Serie A [1]
33 England Andrew Jaszczyk R 2013 Rotherham, England Injury Cover from Manchester Phoenix, EPIHL
40 England Geoff Woolhouse L 2010 Sheffield, England Nottingham Panthers, EIHL [2]
Defencemen
No. Player Shoots Acquired Place of Birth Joined from Press Release
2 United States Chad Langlais R 2013 Spokane, WA, USA Belfast Giants, EIHL [3]
3 Canada Gord Baldwin A L 2013 Winnipeg, MB, Canada 2 year deal from Idaho Steelheads, ECHL [4]
22 Canada Dustin Kohn L 2013 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 2 year deal from HC Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic [5]
23 England Danny Meyers R 2012 Ascot, England Nottingham Panthers, EIHL [6]
42 CanadaItaly Drew Fata L 2011 Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada Asiago, Serie A [7]
44 England Mark Thomas R 2005 Stockport, England 2 year deal from London Racers, EIHL [8]
Forwards
No. Player Position Acquired Place of Birth Joined from Press Release
10 Canada Stefan Meyer LW 2013 Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada Schwenninger Wild Wings, DEL, Germany [9]
11 Canada Jeff Legue C 2007 Cornwall, Ontario, Canada EV Landsberg, Oberliga [10]
12 CanadaFrance Maxime Lacroix C 2013 Québec, QC, Canada Odense Bulldogs, AL-Bank Ligaen, Denmark [11]
13 United StatesItaly Nate DiCasmirro C 2013 Atikokan, Ontario, Canada HC Valpellice, Serie A [12]
15 Wales Phil Hill LW/RW 2013 Cardiff, Wales Cardiff Devils, EIHL [13]
17 England Jason Hewitt C/RW 2006 Manchester, England Basingstoke Bison, EIHL [14]
18 Canada Steven Goertzen C RW 2012 Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada Springfield Falcons, AHL [15]
19 England Aaron Nell LW/RW 2013 Swindon, England 2 way deal with Swindon Wildcats, EIHL [16]
20 Wales Jonathan Phillips A LW 2006 Cardiff, Wales Cardiff Devils, EIHL [17]
21 Canada Tim Spencer LW 2013 Carnduff, Saskatchewan, Canada Springfield Falcons, AHL [18]
71 CanadaItaly Rob Sirianni RW 2013 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada HC Valpellice, Serie A [19]
75 England Robert Dowd RW/LW 2013 Billingham, England Troja-Ljungby, Allsvenskan, Sweden [20]
Coaching Staff
No. Name Position Place of Birth Joined from Press Release
N/A United States Doug Christiansen Head coach Milwaukee, WI, USA Belfast Giants, EIHL [21]
N/A CanadaEngland Marc Lefebvre Assistant coach Kanata, Ontario, Canada Dayton Demonz, Federal Hockey League [22]
Released Players
No. Player Position Acquired Current Status Press Release
25 United States Ilpo Salmivirta LW 2013 Left at end of Month long trial & joined Gothiques d'Amiens, Ligue Magnus [23]
39 United StatesCanada Rylan Galiardi C 2013 Released following players returning from injury, now playing for Utah Grizzlies, ECHL [24]

Honoured members[edit]

The Steelers have retired the numbers of five players.[24] Ronnie Wood's number 7 and Tim Cranston's number 4 have been retired. Tony Hand's number 16 and Ken Priestlay's number 9 were retired on 21 January 2003 at a challenge match against the Dundee Stars.,[25] with Ron Shudra's number 26 retired in Summer 2009.

Eight people who have been associated with the Steelers have been inducted to the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.[26] Alex Dampier, who coached the Steelers from January 1993 to the end of the 1997–98 season, was inducted in 1995 and Mike Blaisdell, who coached and occasionally iced for the Steelers between 1999 and 2004, was inducted in 2004. On the player front, Chris Kelland was inducted in 2002, Rick Brebant in 2004, Paul Adey in 2006, Scott Neil in 2007, and most recently, legendary players Tim Cranston and 'Rocket' Ron Shudra in December 2010.

The Steelers started their own Hall of Fame in 2005 in which honoured members are voted for by the fans. There are two Hall of Fames: The Players Hall of Fame[27] and the Backroom Staff Hall of Fame.[28] Ken Priestlay, Tommy Plommer, Scott Allison and Tim Cranston were inducted to the Players Hall of Fame in 2005 and Ron Shudra and Mike Blaisdell were inducted in 2006. David Simms, responsible for Press and Media at the club, and Andy Akers, Equipment Manager, were inducted to the Backroom Staff Hall of Fame in 2006 and Mike O'Connor, General Manager, was inducted in 2007.

Honours and awards[edit]

League Championships

Play Off Championships

Autumn Cups

  • 1995–96, 2000–01

Challenge Cups

20-20 Hockeyfest Tournament

  • 2009-10

Player of the Year Trophy

Coach of the Year Trophy

The Ice Hockey Annual Trophy (Leading British points scorer)

First Team All-Star

Second Team All-Star

Grand slam winning teams[edit]

The Steelers have won the Grand Slam of all available trophies twice in their history. In the 1995–96 season they won the Benson & Hedges Cup, the league championship and the playoffs. In the 2000–01 season they won the Benson & Hedges Cup, the Challenge Cup, the league championship and the playoffs. The players who played for the Steelers those seasons were:

Season-by-season record[edit]

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against

Season League GP W L T OTL Pts GF GA Final League Position
1991–92 English League Division 1 32 27 4 1 0 55 378 163 2nd
1992–93 British League Division 1 32 22 6 4 0 48 300 186 2nd
1993–94 British League Premier Division 44 28 12 4 0 55 313 198 3rd
1994–95 British League Premier Division 44 35 5 4 0 74 334 183 1st
1995–96 British League Premier Division 36 27 4 5 0 59 268 122 1st
1996–97 Ice Hockey Superleague 44 27 11 4 2 60 168 127 2nd
1997–98 Ice Hockey Superleague 44 20 18 3 3 50 169 163 6th
1998–99 Ice Hockey Superleague 42 17 19 4 2 40 135 141 6th
1999–00 Ice Hockey Superleague 42 24 14 2 2 52 188 155 2nd
2000–01 Ice Hockey Superleague 48 35 9 0 4 104 162 115 1st
2001–02 Ice Hockey Superleague 48 18 18 12 0 48 138 144 3rd
2002–03 Ice Hockey Superleague 32 18 8 5 1 42 162 115 1st††
2003–04 Elite Ice Hockey League 56 44 8 3 1 92 214 106 1st
2004–05 Elite Ice Hockey League 50 25 17 5 3 58 118 110 5th
2005–06 Elite Ice Hockey League 42 15 19 6 2 38 105 135 6th
2006–07 Elite Ice Hockey League 54 30 16 - 8 68 163 154 3rd
2007–08 Elite Ice Hockey League 54 38 14 - 2 78 190 129 2nd
2008–09 Elite Ice Hockey League 54 41 6 - 7 89 201 115 1st
2009–10 Elite Ice Hockey League 56 24 26 - 6 54 194 196 5th
Finished second with 60 points. However, five points were deducted for breaking the wage cap[citation needed]
Three points were awarded for a win in the 2000–01 season
††Five team league

Club Records[edit]

League Titles[edit]

  • British Premier Division Titles: 2 (1994/95, 1995/96)
  • Superleague Titles: 2 (2000/01, 2002/03)
  • Elite League Titles: 3 (2003/04, 2008/09, 2010/11)

Cup Titles[edit]

  • Yorkshire Cup: 2 (1993/94, 1994/95)
  • Benson & Hedges Cup: 2 (1995/95, 2000/01)
  • Challenge Cup: 4 (1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2002/03)
  • Knockout Cup: 1 (2005/06)
  • 20/20 Hockeyfest: 1 (2009/10)
  • Charity Shield: 1 (2009/10)

Play-Off Titles[edit]

  • British Championship: 9 (1994/95, 1995/96, 1996/97, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2003/04, 2007/08, 2009/09, 2013/14)

Team Records[edit]

  • Most Points in a Season: 104 --- 3 Pts for a Win (2000/01) 92 --- 2 Pts for a Win (2003/04)
  • Most Wins in a Season: 44 (2003/04)
  • Most Regulation Losses in a Season: 26 (2009/10)
  • Most Overtime Losses in a Season: 8 (2006/07)
  • Most Ties in a Season: 12 (2001/02) --- Ties ceased after the 2005/06 Season
  • Most Goals Scored in Regular Season: 378 (1991/92)
  • Most Goals Conceded in Regular Season: 198 (1993/94)
  • Least Goals Scored in Regular Season: 105 (2005/06)
  • Least Goals Conceded in Regular Season: 106 (2003/04)
  • Highest League Position: 1st (1994/95, 1995/96, 2000/01, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2008/09)
  • Lowest League Position: 6th (1997/98, 1998/99, 2005/06)
  • Most Goals Scored in a Single Game (Competitive): 30 (30-4 .v. Solent Vikings, 15/03/1992)
  • Most Goals Conceded in a Single Game (Competitive): 14 (14-3 @ Basingstoke Beavers, 07/11/1992, 14-10 @ Durham Wasps, 18/09/1993)
  • Biggest Winning Margin at Home (Competitive): 26 Goals (30-4 .v. Solent Vikings, 15/03/1992)
  • Biggest Winning Margin on the Road (Competitive): 25 Goals (4-29 @ Sunderland Chiefs, 28/12/1991)
  • Biggest Losing Margin at Home (Competitive): 6 Goals (2-8 .v. Whitley Warriors, 16/10/1993, 0-6 .v. London Knights, 11/09/1999, 1-7 .v. Belfast Giants, 19/02/2006, 1-7 .v. Cardiff Devils, 12/01/2011)
  • Biggest Losing Margin on the Road (Competitive): 11 Goals (14-3 @ Basingstoke Beavers, 07/11/1992, 12-1 @ Cardiff Devils, 24/04/1994)
  • No. of Teams Shutout (All Time): 97
  • Most Shutouts in a Season (Team, All Comps): 10 (2008/09)
  • Team Shutout Most (All Time): Nottingham Panthers (14)
  • No. of Times Shutout (All Time): 37
  • Most Times Shutout in a Season (All Comps): 8 (2005/06)
  • Team Most Shutout Against (All Time): Nottingham Panthers (8)
  • Longest Winning Streak (All Comps): 13 Games (07/09/2000 - 11/10/2000)
  • Longest Losing Streak (All Comps): 7 Games (23/02/2003 - 15/03/2003)
  • Longest Unbeaten Streak (Home, All Comps): 53 Games (49 Wins, 4 Ties - 27/12/1993 to 19/10/1996)
  • Highest Attendance (Home): 10,136 (Sheffield Steelers 5-2 Nottingham Panthers, 02/12/1995, Benson & Hedges Cup Final)
  • Highest Attendance (Away): 17,245 (Manchester Storm 6-2 Sheffield Steelers, 23/02/1997, Superleague)

Individual Records[edit]

  • Most Games Played: Ron Shudra (626)
  • Most Goals Scored (All Time): Steve Nemeth (356)
  • Most Assists (All Time): Ron Shudra (463)
  • Most Points Scored (All Time): Ron Shudra (792)
  • Most Penalty Minutes (All Time): Tommy Plommer (1,007)
  • Most Goals Scored in a Regular Season: Steve Nemeth (92) (1991–92)
  • Most Assists in a Regular Season: Mark Mackie (101) (1991–92)
  • Most Points Scored in a Regular Season: Steve Nemeth (186) (1991–92)
  • Most Penalty Minutes in a Regular Season: Andrew Sharpe (230) (2008–09)
  • Most Goals Scored in a Play-Off Championship: Steve Nemeth (21) (1991–92)
  • Most Assists in a Play-Off Championship: Steve Nemeth (18) (1991–92)
  • Most Points Scored in a Play-Off Championship: Steve Nemeth (39) (1991–92)
  • Most Penalty Minutes in a Play-Off Championship: Timo Willman (77) (2002–03)

Goaltender Records[edit]

  • Most Games Played (All Time): Jody Lehman (252)
  • Most Minutes Played (All Time): Jody Lehman (14,927)
  • Most Wins (All Time): Jody Lehman (142)
  • Most Losses (All Time): Jody Lehman (73)
  • Most Shutouts in a Season (All Comps): Ervins Mustukovs (11) (2010–11)
  • Most Shutouts (All Time): Jody Lehman (24)
  • Best Goals Against Average (All Time): Christian Bronsard (1.23) (Min. 30 Games Played)
  • Best Save Percentage (All Time): Christian Bronsard (94.5%) (Min. 30 Games Played)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sheffield Arena (2007). "Directions to the Sheffield Arena Sheffield". sheffieldarena.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  2. ^ Sister Cities International
  3. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2006). "1000th Game Fast Approaches". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  4. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2006). "Special Game Shirt for Sunday". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  5. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2006). "Steelers Go Down to the Bison on their 1,000th Night". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  6. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "All Change at the Steelers". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  7. ^ Britich Ice Hockey.co.uk (2007). "Elite Ice Hockey League - 2006/07". britishicehockey.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-05-27. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  8. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Matsos Pledges to the Steelers". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-05-24. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  9. ^ The Sheffield Star (2007). "Steelers chief sells Devils". thestar.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  10. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Steelers Captain Phillips Back for Another Year". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-05-24. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  11. ^ a b Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Steelers Re-Sign Lehman and Thomas". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-05-15. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  12. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Warren Tait Signs For Another Year". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  13. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Hewitt Signs for Another Year". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  14. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Manzano Signs". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-05-15. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  15. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Ashley Tait is a STEELER". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-05-15. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  16. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Ryan Finnerty Signs for the Steelers Once Agaian". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  17. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Steelers New Signing is Steve Munn". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  18. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Legue Confirmed as Latest Signing". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  19. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "The New Steeler is Randy Dagenais". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  20. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Sarich Back to Win a Championship". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  21. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Joe Talbot Signs for the Steelers". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  22. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Jeremy Cornish Signs for the Steelers". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-08-19. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  23. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "Liberata are the Title Sponsors of the Steelers". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-07-19. 
  24. ^ Sheffield Steelers (2007). "History". sheffieldsteelers.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  25. ^ Stuart Hughes (18 December 2002). "Sheffield to honour Steelers stars". BBC Sport Online. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  26. ^ Ice Hockey Journalists UK (2007). "Hall of Fame". ihjuk.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  27. ^ J. P. Smith. "Players Hall Of Fame". Sheffield Steelers Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  28. ^ J. P. Smith. "Backroom Staff Hall Of Fame". Sheffield Steelers Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Cardiff Devils
Premier League Champions
1994–95, 1995–96
Succeeded by
Last Champions
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Cardiff Devils
Playoff Champions
1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97
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Ayr Scottish Eagles
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Nottingham Panthers
Autumn Cup Winners
1995–96
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Nottingham Panthers
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Ayr Scottish Eagles
Challenge Cup Winners
1998–99, 1999–00, 2000–01
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Ayr Scottish Eagles
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Bracknell Bees
Superleague Champions
2000–01
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Belfast Giants
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Playoff Champions
2000–01, 2001–02
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Manchester Storm
Autumn Cup Winners
2000–01
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Last Champions
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Superleague Champions
2002–03
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Last Champions
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Challenge Cup Winners
2002–03
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Inaugural Champions
Elite League Champions
2003–04
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Belfast Giants
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2003–04
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Inaugural Champions
Knockout Cup Winners
2005–06
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Cardiff Devils
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Nottingham Panthers
Playoff Champions
2007–08, 2008–09
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Belfast Giants
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Coventry Blaze
Elite League Champions
2008–09
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Coventry Blaze
Elite League Champions
2010-11
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