Fans and players alike mourn tragic Sheffield Steeler
Aaron Brocklehurst says the Sheffield Steelers' club and their army of fans are right to mourn the loss of Marek Troncinsky, saying he was a fine man as well as a talented ice hockey player.
Troncinksy had initially arrived at the Steelers squad as injury cover, at a time when Brocklehurst and Aaron Johnson were struggling with fitness.
The newcomer made such a telling contribution that he was offered a contract for the rest of the EIHL season.
And, shortly before his death in his home nation of the Czech Republic, last weekend, Troncinsky signed a Steelers' contract for the upcoming 2021-22 campaign.
His totally-unexpected death continues to cast a shadow over Steelers' players, staff and fan base.
It is not known how the 32-year-old family man died, but, apparently, no foul play was involved.
Brocklehurst said it would be wrong to speculate on the tragedy but pointed out that there was certainly no evidence that Troncinsky was a troubled person when he was in Sheffield
"First of all I would like to pay my respects to Marek and his family who will be going through a lot right now" said the 55-game Steeler.
"There was never any indication of anything negative - everybody loved being around him.
"He was a real blast to have in the room.
"We were lucky to get him in the team during the injuries and having him paid dividends" said the Canadian.
"Yes, there was a language barrier but he was always willing to try to communicate and hang out with the guys.
"This is a serious tragedy and it speaks volumes about the man that all those Sheffield fans feel the way they do, right now."
Brocklehurst, himself, decided to retire from hockey when the pandemic put an end to the idea of a full season in 2020-21.
In a few months time, after college-training, he will be walking the streets of Regina, Saskatchewan, as a probationary police officer.
He said it was an exciting career change at 35 and would require an attention to team-work, just as his hockey career did.
After a decade of playing in Europe, he said he owed his family some stability.
He believes that the future is bright for British hockey, as evidenced by the young talent emerging like Liam Kirk, Kieran Brown and Alex Graham.
Brocklehurt said the standard of the EIHL compared well with north American minor leagues.
And he said Great Britain's seat at the table of the top teams in World Championships was further evidence that the game was blossoming.
Asked if he would recommend Sheffield and Steelers to hockey players looking to try their luck in the UK, he replied: "Absolutely, Tony and Shaun (Smith) and Aaron Fox were good to me and if anyone reaches out to me and asks about Sheffield it will get an A plus rating."
Brocklehurst left the club after winning a Challenge Cup medal. He concluded: "What a way that was to go out - winning a Cup with all those Sheffield fans in that barn (Cardiff.)"
Steelers' skipper Jonathan Phillips said he went into "complete shock" when he found out about the Troncinsky tragedy. "He was a fun-loving guy, a fantastic team mate...a good, good human being" he said.