The Sheffield Steelkings travel to Belgium this weekend as they compete in the first Northwest Europe Para Ice Hockey league.
The side will face hosts Antwerp Phantoms, Rouen Dragons of France and a combination of Amsterdam Tigers and Dordrecht Polar Bears.
The teams will compete in a round-robin tournament across Saturday and will then play full length finals on the Sunday.
About the Steelkings
The Steelkings are Britain’s youngest Para Ice Hockey club established in September of 2014.
They started out with just the five players and played their first game against the then Manchester Phoenix.
Since then they have become a fully competitive side improving their coaching and squad size.
A first league win over the now Manchester Mayhem followed in 2017 and now the side hope to compete even more.
The Steelkings will now face a European challenge.
The Club’s Chairman Jake Oakley said of this opportunity: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the club and recognition of our efforts to grow our name and the sport in this country and beyond. It’s an honour to be involved.”
The side haven’t been able to play as much competitively with the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic which Oakley said they hope to shake off.
“With the pandemic it’s been a long time since we played a game with genuine stakes so hopefully we can work off some rink rust too.”
With the team’s mix of experience Oakley is hopeful that his side will be competitive in the competition, saying: “We’re taking a mix of players, some with international experience and others who will be making their debuts in the British league this year. We think we’ll be competitive and I know everyone will give it their all. It’s a good chance for some of the newer players to get some competitive ice time ahead of the season and for us to gel as a team.”
The Steelkings will be playing some familiar faces as they have faced the Rouen Dragons once in 2019 and again in 2020.
The side picked up wins on both these occasions.
Another piece of success for the Steelkings was being voted Parasport UK’s ‘Club of the Month’ in February.
This is something Oakley was proud of, saying: “There is so much hard work that goes on here, not just on the ice but off it too, and when the recognition is there, it’s always incredible.”
The Club were also part of a feature during the Paralympics on Channel 4 you can watch that video here.
The Northwest European league will begin on Saturday the 12th of March.