Both Matt Petgrave and Niklas Nevalainen will be back in Orange for a second season after agreeing new contracts with the club for the 2023-24 Elite League season.
The pair proved to be an impressive duo whilst playing together last season with Petgrtave confirming that he “nagged Nikki all summer to return”
Head coach Aaron Fox was determined to bring the pair back to Sheffield and said “I’m Really excited to have this pair back together as they were extremely effective. They only gave up an even strength goal every 41 minutes of 5 on 5 time they were out there together which is an elite accomplishment”.
On Matt Petgrave Fox said “Matt is a smooth skating defensemen who finished the year with 48 points in 54 regular season games and was +41
“He is a player who can jump in the play and produce some big numbers offensively. Defensively he is very aggressive and gets us stops below the goal line, he has excellent gap control and is willing to put his body on the line on the PK”.
On Niklas Nevalainen Niklas is a very mobile, smart two way defender.
“He finished the year with 23 points and +40. I think that his hockey sense is elite and he reads the game at an extremely high level.
“Niklas has a great stick defensively and is always in the right spot at the right time. He is a pure mover who always make the smart correct play without much risk in his game and is a selfless teammate”.
Petgrave said it was an easy decision to return “I think I knew in the first 6 weeks of being in Sheffield that this was a place I would like to stay long term
“I have been treated well, love the professionalism of the club and the passion of the fans so when Aaron and I spoke at the end of the season it was an easy decision and one we both agreed on right away
“I like the way the new side is looking, I have great faith in the organisation and coaching staff in what we are trying to achieve here. Obviously we came up short last year and that still hurts, we were not far away, just a few tweaks and knowing the quality of who is coming in I am sure that we can go one step further and bring a championship back to the incredible fan support we have”
Speaking on his relationship with Niklas, Petgrave said “I texted him the moment I signed and told him he had to come back, I nagged him a lot through the summer. He was doing exactly what he should be doing, when you have a wife and family you have to look around for the best deal that suits all his needs.
“I found he had signed a few days ago and immediately messaged him with my congratulations
“I think the key to our understanding is communication, we speak after every shift and I think that makes our partnership. He knows what I’m doing and I him”
Nevalainen confirmed his return saying “I think these fans of ours deserve a championship and that is what our aim is this coming year
“The decision to return was not a tough one at all, I know I took my time but I told Aaron that if I was coming back to the UK it would only be to Sheffield.
“I had interest in Denmark and Norway and explored that, you have to when you have a family, however I think we were always set on Sheffield, the way we are looked after off the ice is excellent and the group of players in the room also
“My family enjoyed their time here, there is nothing bad to say, it must have been good as I am back”
Speaking of his relationship with Matt Petgrave Niklas said “I think we do play well together, we are similar in many ways and both like to play with the puck
“When I get the puck he holds back and when he has it I do the same, sure that meant me holding back a lot more last year.
“I want to win, I’m only interested in winning so if that’s my role and that helps the team win then that is what I do. I love playing with Matt and hope we will do so again this coming season