Sheffield Steelers' Brandon Whistle repaying faith shown by Aaron Fox

Aaron Fox's decision to play Brandon Whistle ahead of others competing for a spot on Sheffield Steelers' ice reaped an immediate reward.

Monday, 28th March 2022, 12:53 pm

With Nico Feldner and Tommaso Traversa both healthy scratches, the 24-year-old centreman seized his opportunity on the roster and scored the winning goal against Manchester Storm, with 11 minutes left of Sunday's EIHL game.

Fox paid tribute to man of the match Whistle after the game but also had words of comfort for Feldner and Traversa.

"Brandon Whistle has played some excellent hockey for us. We sat a couple of imports in the stands" said Fox adding: "I like both those players a lot.

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"But Brandon's played over the last two months and I feel he needed to be rewarded and he saw more ice again (against Manchester.)

"I gave him a couple more shifts after that goal...I threw him out there with two minutes to go and that kind of shows the faith I have in that guy right now. He plays such a smart game."

As for Feldner: "I thought Nico came in and played some pretty good hockey for us when he got here, and then we just got healthy.

"Nico is a late addition and it felt like playing the guys who put us in this position and especially a guy like would be a questionable call sitting Whistle and playing Nico and I feel that Brandon's game has been really, really solid.

"If I was to lose a top-six guy Nico could come in and fill one of those roles for me probably right away."

Jonathan Phillips and Whistle were the two "energy guys" he was relying on during tough spots in games, he said

The coach added that Feldner was very professional to deal with.

"I don't worry about him at all, I like the kid a lot, he works hard, he competes, he's unassuming, at some point here we are going to need him to step in and make a difference for us."

Sunday's performance was "ugly" and lacked the physical, hard-nosed style exhibited in Saturday's big win at Cardiff Devils, the coach admitted.

"We might have got away with that one," said Fox of the 2-1 win.

"At this time of the year when things are not going well, to squeeze those two points was the most important thing."

He said Storm had made it hard for his side to transition through the neutral zone; "They will hook and hold and slow you down and dumb the game down a little bit. Credit to them, they played well but we got the job done."

Fox expects the return league game in Altrincham on Wednesday to be different.

It was a rink where "pucks bounce all over the place, everywhere you can get a scoring chance, but they are playing well in that building and are in pretty good form right now. They are fighting for that last play off spot and it's never an easy place to play, we have to be physically and mentally prepared."