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.
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.
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.