Brendan Connolly could miss rest of Sheffield Steelers' season

Brendan Connolly is facing an operation and will be out for months - and team mate Marco Vallerand will again be missing this weekend for Sheffield Steelers.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 3:21 pm

On Thursday morning, Connolly was placed on the EIHL official Injury Reserve list and said he was out "long term."

Later, the club said Marco Vallerand had also been placed on the list, but could be back in a week's time.

It means that Andreas Valdix has been given a shot at playing for Steelers again, following his 'guest' appearances for the club in the Continental Cup tournament in Denmark last weekend.

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His "cover period" at Steelers has now been extended.

And that has not come at the cost of one of the 'official changes' allotted by the Elite League administration, over a season.

The lengthy loss of Connolly cannot be underestimated.

Not only is he a rugged, explosive player but his winning mentality spreads to all his team-mates, particularly when his side is losing a game.

Brendan Connolly is facing a knee operation and will be out for months.

Fans will be hoping that his knee injury- sustained in a seemingly innocuous play against Aalborg Pirate 37 minutes into the first Continental Cup game - will not resemble the ACL tear suffered by his Great Britain and former Steelers team-mate Liam Kirk, in America, this month.

Connolly is 36 years old and could well do without a lengthy time on the sidelines.

In the worst-case scenario, he would be a big miss for GB, too, in this year's World Championships.

A club spokesman said: "Brendan will be placed on the injury reserve list following the initial results of an MRI scan carried out in Denmark.

Marco Vallerand will again be missing this weekend for Sheffield Steelers.

"Connolly suffered a knee injury in the first game of the competition against hosts Aalborg and didn't participate in either of the two remaining games."

Head coach Aaron Fox added: "The results of the scan were not very good news and it will keep Conns out long-term.

"He will get the best medical treatment available and I know he will work on coming back stronger than ever.

"Conns is such a big piece of our group he will be tough to replace.

Steelers admitted Connolly would be out "long term."

"Of course, with this news, added to our already long injury list we are looking at the market for a new player and have options currently being worked on. "Without going into specifics, I am hopeful that we may have some better news that at least one of our injured guys will be ready ahead of the weekend.

"We will see how training goes today and tomorrow before deciding on our line-up for Saturday's game against Nottingham."

On Vallerand's absence, Fox said: "Marco still won’t be available this weekend. He will be available to play next weekend if fit.

"Andreas Valdix came in and played solid last weekend and I think another week here gives us more time to evaluate our current situation and make some key decisions next week".

Steelers host Nottingham Panthers in their final Challenge Cup round-robin game on Saturday.

It is a dead-rubber match yet 8,000 seats will be filled.

Brendan Connolly.

The much more significant game is on Sunday at Guildford Flames, currently a point ahead of Sheffield at the top of the table.

Two-way asset Brandon Whistle, of Leeds Knights, will be invited to join the group on the trip to Surrey.