Comment: No spin-doctoring from Sheffield Steelers' goalie writes Bob Westerdale

Sport can sometimes morph into a marketing exercise where spin doctors elevate a team or individual's positives out of proportion or draw a veil over any weaknesses.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 11:56 am

Over the decades, Sheffield Steelers have been as skilled at this as anyone; their public relations narrative has maintained and improved attendances even at times when major titles were thin on the ground.

It is all part of the game, or games, this match-up of ice hockey and PR.

So it was novel this week to hear Steelers' goalie Barry Brust disclose his inner-most thoughts, some of them dark ones. He's not played well and that "brutal" form had impacted his first few weeks with the club, he said.

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Aaron Fox had defended Brust him during times the coach now admits the goaltender had suffered a poor saves percentage, allowing too many goals from too few shots.

Fox choses to disclose this now as it seems that Brust is well and truly over his difficult start.

In fact, things have gone full circle.

Brust collected the club's first shut-out of the season in the 6-0 slaughter of Fife Flyers on Wednesday, while in the recent match at Manchester Storm his rival for the starting spot, Rok Stojanovic, was pulled from his crease after just 21 minutes.

Barry Brust shuts out Fife, pic Dean Woolley

Actually, Brust would probably argue with the use of the term 'rival.' He only wants what's best for the club and does not concern himself over whether he or Stojanovic is deemed number one netminder at the Arena.

Ask him about the Slovenian giant and Brust is gushing with praise.

"I admire the way he plays and I admire his game" he says.

"I have been so impressed and it is great for me because it raises the bar that much higher for me if I want to play. It is something I look forward to continuing forward for the rest of the year."

Barry Brust having fun with the Steelers crowd, pic Dean Woolley.

It had been "kind of nice that we could share common things together."

Fox was confident he would come good after the wobbly start.

"He has set a standard for himself over his career...the 18-months lay-off was probably a little bit harder to come back from than he anticipated" says the coach.

"I know he was dealing with some stuff (injury) in his foot too, so it's been hard for him to string back-to-back games because of that.

Rok Stojanovic.

"But it's getting better. They (medics) have figured it out. I know you really can't do this in hockey but if you look at his game as a whole there has just been a couple of 10-15 minute blocks where he wasn't great, the rest of it has been pretty good.

"He is so big, reads the game so well, I feel like once he finds his groove we will be in a pretty good spot.

"He is somebody that can look in the mirror and he did and felt like he probably wasn't good enough but I think he was probably being hard on himself."

Brust has played in the last two Steeler games, so it will be intriguing to see if he starts against Belfast Giants on Saturday evening.

The search for the "hot goalie" is well and truly on.