'I had to look away...' - A highly emotional return to Arena for Sheffield Steelers

He's a seasoned coach and a veteran of tough, playing days across two continents - not the kind of person to flinch from anything or anybody.

Monday, 20th September 2021, 12:16 pm

But Sheffield Steelers' coach Aaron Fox admitted the emotional farewell at Sheffield Arena, to defenceman Marek Trončinský as well as club supporters who didn't make it through the pandemic lockdown, was too hard for him to bear.

The video tribute to the Czech player and fans from the stands was a significant moment in the history of the club.

And Nottingham Panthers' fans warm-heartedly joined in the applause before Sunday night's game.

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Fox said the moment demonstrated what a special place the Arena can be.

"I had to look away from the screen when the 'Tron' stuff was going on there. That was a tough one for me," said the 45-year-old American.

"Eighteen months go by and you see something like that up on the screen, all the lives lost...it's awful."

Centreman John Armstrong agreed with his coach's sentiments.

"It was a very emotional, sad start to the game, I was definitely feeling it. Those names, those pictures. Tron was a great guy a good friend of mine."

Fox, saddled with injuries after a bruising, opening weekend, said he couldn't help feeling he was "swimming upstream" but hoped most casualties would be back in the line-up for the Challenge Cup opening game at Manchester Storm on Saturday.

He said it was never a good thing to be undermanned in the first week and that the team "probably didn't have enough left in the tank" as they slipped to a 5-3 loss to Panthers.

A Marek Troncinsky memorial on the big screen before Sheffield Steelers took on Nottingham Panthers

Defensively, Steelers were without Daine Todd, Adrian Saxrud-Danielsen, Kevin Schulze and first-choice goaltender Barry Brust at the Arena. Stand-in goaltender Rok Stojanovic didn't have as good a night as he had 24 hours earlier.

However, Fox said he thought his team had enough chances to get back and remained confused as to why a Steelers' goal was disallowed, despite a long video review by the officials.

Other than those issues, he was generally happy with the roster's first week's work adding: "I like the group so far."

Fox added the ice surface had been poor in the hot, packed Arena building, but that situation would be looked at.

Aaron Fox on the Sheffield Steelers' bench

Steelers will have reinforcements soon, Brust was due into the UK on Monday and Schulze on Tuesday after delays in their visa provision were overcome.

Justin Hodgman, the former Arizona Coyotes' NHLer who suffered a mid-body puck injury on Saturday in Nottingham, is expected to have fully recovered by the coming weekend.