Sheffield Steelers: Fears over Aaron Johnson fitness after slashed hand blow

Aaron Johnson is fearing another lengthy absence from Sheffield Steelers' side after being slashed on the hand at Glasgow Clan, last Sunday.

By Bob Westerdale
Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 9:44 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 6:09 pm
Aaron Johnson - unlucky with injuries
Aaron Johnson - unlucky with injuries

The defenceman was playing only his second game after returning from a fracture which had robbed him of 19 games.

Now he could be back to square one - a huge frustration for him and coach Aaron Fox.

But team-mate James Bettauer will be back in the roster on Saturday, after resting an injury to his back, last weekend.

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"It is frustrating for Aaron, he came back and played well. I can't complain - there has not been a decline in his game, he was unreal on Saturday against Coventry Blaze; he was arguably our best defenceman," says Fox.

"He was hurt on Sunday but played through it. Maybe he didn't play as well in Scotland but he was still very very solid after jumping right back in.

"We had rested James, he had suffered a few niggles in his back, so we managed the situation and gave him a rest when Aaron came back. James has been having issues with his back but had previously played through."

Bettauer's influence on the ice has been a plus-point in the team, in Fox's eyes.

"I like his game; he got off to a slow start but has improved throughout the year. He has been getting points too.

"He is a an active 'D,' he likes to jump in the play, sometimes he over-extends, but he is cutting that back."

With Johnson seemingly out, Steelers will have to address the issue of whether to offer Mikko Kuukka an extended deal at the House of Steel.

"We will have to see where his head is at, has he got something else in Finland?" said Fox.

Steelers conceded eight goals at Glasgow on Sunday, which led to Fox accusing some of his forwards of 'cheating' - neglecting their defensive duties in pursuit of offensive aims.

"Defensively we had been so good on Saturday night, making sure the puck was out before we blew the zone. We have got to make sure we are winning battles, creating those battles and outnumbering opponents, and to do that we need our wingers to protect the slot for us.

"We can't have guys flying out of the zone before pucks have 100 per cent left our zone.

"We gave up 11 scoring chances at Glasgow and they got seven goals. (excluding the empty-netter.)

"We left Dubes (goalie Tomas Duba) hanging out to dry on four of them. Sometimes there was a lack of effort. The battles we lost turned into scoring chances and the second wave of support in our zone wasn't there.

"Most of the goals against Duba he had no chance with. There are always a goal that you look back on and think maybe it is not the greatest of goals, but he was hung out to dry."

There is no progress on recruiting another goalie - Fox says his priorities have been sorting out injury and suspension issues.