ROD SARICH is determined to make coach Ryan Finnerty’s job much more difficult in the weeks ahead.
The Sheffield Steelers’ defenceman, having recovered from a kidney injury sustained during a game against Nottingham Panthers on November 20 is starting to try and regain fitness.
The seven-season Steeler went back on the ice for the first time last week and is determined to be available for selection before the play-offs start at the end of March.
Sarich would take another import’s place in the blue-line, another headache, but a welcome one for Finnerty, who is trying to “move on” after a morale sapping defeat to league leaders Belfast Giants, last Sunday.
“Picking the line-up is the coach’s job,” said Sarich. “But I am very hopeful that I will be ready soon to give him a choice.”
Sarich, who is 31 next month and hoping for further on-ice employment next season, has his own position to protect by proving his fitness to Finnerty or any other potential employer.
And the Canadian must also overcome any physical and mental obstacles in going back to a full-contact sport, given he lost 15 per cent of a kidney as a result of his collision with Panthers’ Jordan Fox. “I don’t dwell on the incident too much, I’m just looking ahead” he said.
“Training for the first time was a nice feeling, rather than standing around feeling useless. I felt terrible on the ice not, I didn’t have much stamina and strength but mentally it was great.”
Sarich says the initial accident was a freak and he didn’t think “lightning will strike in the same spot again.”
“There is no reason why I should re-injured it. I just want to come back and contribute. I am not going to come back until I know I am strong enough to do what I was doing before.
“I don’t want my first game back to be a big one against Nottingham or against Belfast when the title is on line but I do hope to be back before the play-offs.”
Player assistant coach Ashley Tait said Sarich’s return would give the club “a huge boost.”