Sheffield Steelers: Aaron Fox defends star from "unfair flak"

An astonishing points-scoring run has come to an end for Sheffield Steelers' forward Brendan Connolly.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 1:09 pm
Brendan Connolly.
Brendan Connolly.

But coach Aaron Fox believes the fact that the win-at-all-costs skater clocked up at least a point in 21 consecutive League outings marks him out as something special – and deserving of praise rather than the criticism he received from some quarters earlier in the 2019-20 campaign.

Connolly wasn’t on the scoresheet for Sunday’s smash-and-grab 5-3 win at Glagow Clan.

That means Steelers retain their position five points clear at the top of the EIHL table.

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While second placed Cardiff Devils have four games in hand, Sheffield can be satisfied that players like 34-year-old Connolly are playing significant roles at a time of injuries to forwards and defencemen alike.

Fox says of the Canadian: “I think some of the flak he gets is a little bit unwarranted.

“I know at the beginning of the year he was in the (penalty) box a little more than anyone would like.

“But he’s a guy that plays on the edge and I think he brings so much more to the table positively than what he might cost you.

“He has been remarkable, especially these last 10 to 12 games. I know this streak has been going on for a long time but the last 10 he was unreal.”

Fox said Connolly’s “compete level” was a major ingredient of his play.

“If you can’t get on board for a guy that competes every single night every shift...The reason he might give up some stuff some nights is that he gets frustrated; he doesn’t want to give up an inch to anybody.”

Steelers’ win in Scotland was their 23rd win in 34 attempts.

They came back from being 3-1 down, which prompted Clan coach Zack Fitzgerald to claim his team controlled the match for all but six minutes.

Fox said his team had shown resilience: “We are finding ways to win hockey games that maybe we don’t deserve to.

“We are a team right now that scores in bunches and as long as we can manage a game I feel we always have a chance.

“It doesn’t matter how much time is left.”

Steelers play at one of Connolly’s former teams, Belfast Giants, on Friday evening – the rink they lost 6-2 and then won 4-0 in, last month.