Sheffield Steelers: Coach wants to keep Mikko Kuukka for the rest of the campaign

Aaron Fox wants to keep Mikko Kuukka at Steelers for the rest of the season - but knows he could be in a losing battle with the Finnish Elite League for the player's services.

Friday, 29th November 2019, 10:05 pm
Mikko Kuukka in action at Fife.

Kuukka recently agreed a two-week extension to his period at Sheffield.

But team-mate defenceman Aaron Johnson will be out for up to 10 weeks with a re-injured hand, so the club hopes 34-year-old Kuukka stays put after impressing as a shut-down expert over 16 games.

Fox said he would evaluate the position as close as possible to when Kuukka's extended deal expires.

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"Mikko has been unreal for us" said the coach.

"I think everyone in the city would like to find a way to keep Mikko here longer than the two weeks.

"He still has aspirations to go back and play in 'Liiga' as most players would if he was a Finnish player.

"He has been a career guy there, there might be a team that has some injury problems in two weeks, he just wants to leave his options open for a return there. We'll cross the bridge when we have to."

Fox has not made any progress in seeking another import netrminder.

Tomas Duba secured his first clean sheet on Wednesday, but any injury to him would be a major concern.

"There are goalies out there" said Fox.

"You don't know exactly what you are going to get, there is no exact science in that, if something was to happen we would have someone in here fairly quickly.

"Would I guarantee the same level that Dubes has given us? No I won't guarantee that at the moment."

Both Duba and Kuukka will be lining up on Saturday night against Cardiff Devils, and the club is hoping Marco Vallerand will also return.

Steelers have lost twice against the Welsh, but played well on both occasions.

Asked how he could turn good performances against them into points, the coach said: "It's always about eliminating some mistakes in your game and scoring on the chances that you get.

"I think we played two really solid games with them, our game is not going to change much, they are a good hockey team they play a hard, heavy game. We are going to have to match that.

"I think we will be ready it should be another big night for us on Saturday."

Devils have had mixed results.

But Fox said: "You look at that team and that roster and they are deep and big and strong.

“They are a veteran team, they are are probably under a bit of pressure there right now too so they will have a little bit extra for us, I'm sure."