Back in the old routine for Wood

Greg Wood (right) is back in charge of Sheffield Steeldogs, replacing Ben Morgan (PHOTO: Cerys Molloy)

Sheffield Steeldogs coach Greg Wood says it’s been a simple transition since returning to head coach duties after replacing Ben Morgan in December.

The 34-year-old returned to the club last season as a player-assistant coach, but has taken on the main job and has been working to prepare his team for the NIHL Spring Cup, starting on Saturday.

And he insists that even with his predecessor in the room, as Morgan takes on the player-assistant role, it’s like he’s never been away.

“It’s been a pretty positive experience again, with it being my second spell in charge,” he said. “I know the guys pretty well and after stepping out of the game for a couple of years, I came back as the bench coach last year.

“The transitions been simple and the guys have been fantastic so far and it’s a joy to be around them.

“Having ‘Morgs’ in the room won’t be so weird.  He took over coaching when I retired and when I came back on board, he was more than welcoming.  

“We work well as a team and were team-mates for 17 years so we know each other pretty well. It’s more of a coaching team rather than individuals.”

Wood’s first challenge is this week’s double header with Swindon Wildcats, a team Steeldogs beat twice in November’s Streaming Series.

And he does it with the addition of some big hitters in Sheffield Steelers duo Jonathan Phillips and Davey Phillips, as well as Liam Kirk, playing in the UK for the first time since 2018 before his drafting to the NHL.

Jonathan Phillips has been brought in to help out Sheffield Steeldogs in the NIHL Spring Cup (PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

With those additions, Wood is particularly proud of the local angle his team has taken as they get ready for seven weeks of action.

“The one thing I’m proud about is the fact 95% of our team have come through the Sheffield junior system,” he added. “For example, I know Ben O’Connor very well having played with him in Basingstoke and in Coventry and he’s had a magnificent career.

“I coached Liam Kirk in Sheffield before he got his move to the OHL and for these guys, it’s fitting in with the guys they grew up with.  

“Jonathan Phillips is an excellent professional and he’s been here for for 13-14 years and it’s great for the young guys to see how he plays and trains.  It’s a privilege to have him.

Greg Wood has replacing Ben Morgan as head coach of the Sheffield Steeldogs, but Morgan remains on the playing staff (PHOTO: Sheffield Steeldogs)

“The mood is really positive and we were fortunate enough to play in the Streaming Series where we picked up three wins out of four and the guys were on a real high from that.

“It was nice to get everyone back together and we’re looking forward to being back in a competitive nature again.”

“I think we were lucky we got to do the Streaming Series previously, but there’s not a lot going on for the ice hockey players in Britain right now, it’s great to be able to have something to look forward to again.

“The guys are chomping at the bit to get going again and we can’t wait for the weekend.”

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