The Sheffield Steelers have completed their import forward lineup with the signing of former NHLer Mike Duco.
Duco, a 27 year old left winger joins the Steelers after a season captaining the Indy Fuel in the East Coast Hockey league. Before that he boasted an impressive career in the NHL and American Hockey League.
After completing his junior career with the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL Duco turned professional in 2008 playing 68 games in the AHL for the Rochester Americans in his rookie season.
The following year saw Duco called up for his first spell in the NHL with the Florida Panthers. During the next two seasons the robust winger had a couple further spells in the NHL with Florida and Vancouver before moving to Salzburg (Austria) in 2012-13.
2013-14 saw Duco split his time between the Toronto Marlies (AHL) and Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL) before heading to Indianapolis last season to captain the Fuel.
“I’ve known about Mike for some time,” said Head Coach Paul Thompson. “In fact my former captain Sylvain Cloutier brought him to my attention and with our final forward positions being whittled down I revisited Mike and ascertained his interest in Sheffield.
“He is 27, has recent NHL experience and is a proven AHL winger with a near 20 goal season behind him in the ECHL. Lastseason he showed he also has excellent leadership skills captaining a youngIndy side to within 4 points of the playoffs.
“The common theme when seeking references is that Mike is a fierce competitor who can play in all situations. He has a hunger to win and a scoring touch to match. He has been a great penalty killer throughout his career to date and is also a super net presence on the powerplay. He may only be 5’10 but we have just signed a guy who plays like he is 6’4.”
With this signing Thompson has completed his import line up with the exception of his starting goalie. The Steelers Head Coach feels he has signed a very well balanced team ahead of the new campaign that commences in mid-August with the Champions Hockey League. “I feel we have a good skill base and this final signing also adds to our grittiness. I think this Steelers team will bring it night after night.”
Duco confirmed that after speaking with Thompson Sheffield was the place he desired to play. “When a coach has confidence in your ability and tells you that you are wanted for a significant role in his team you sit up and listen. I’m looking forward to a new chapter in my career with the Steelers.
“After speaking with Paul I did my homework and found players I knew that had either played for or against Sheffield. Iwant to play on a team that wants to win and lay it on the line. My feedback from the players I spoke to was that Sheffield demands that every year.
“The Champions Hockey League too was a draw. You want to play against the best and challenge yourself. I look at our roster and like what I see. I think we may fly under the radar and just surprise a few people.”
Duco will make his debut for the Steelers over the weekend of the 15th and 16th August at ICE Sheffield in the Holiday Inn Royal Victoria Cup against the Braehead Clan.