Sheffield Steelers' injuries just won't go away

Aaron Fox is steeling himself to the possibility that his quartet of injured forwards won't be available when Steelers return to domestic competition this coming weekend.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 11:41 am
Updated Monday, 22nd November 2021, 11:53 am
Sheffield Steelers and the traveling fans in Denmark. Picture: Dean Woolley

The Sheffield coach said Brendan Connolly needed tests on his injury and that he "doesn't look good."

The club later added that the scan was completed in a Danish hospital on Monday morning, prior to the players flying home.

The medical team in Sheffield will assess his situation this week.

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It is possible that the club will want to hang on to loanee centreman Andreas Valdix, if Connolly is to be out for some time.

Robert Dowd, Marco Vallerand and Tanner Eberle were all absentees from Steelers' ultimately-unsuccessful Continental Cup games to Denmark, last weekend.

Fans will be fortunate to see any of them play against Nottingham Panthers in the home Challenge Cup game on Saturday.

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Sunday's away league game at Guildford Flames is more important, so they will all be re-assessed for that.

Fox said he was disappointed to be flying home to the UK without a place in the finals of the IIHF competition.

His under-strength and depleted team were beaten 4-0 by Belarus team HK Gomel on Sunday, a result which saw them slip out of contention.

Had they lost by two goals instead, they would have qualified for a tournament the Steelers' ownership would love to have seen hosted at Sheffield Arena.

"We had some chances in the first period, we didn't have a great second period, but I liked our third as well," said the coach, of Sunday's defeat.

"We had opportunities to score goals and as fit as we were and three-games-in-three-nights...well, there's not much to say other than I am proud of the way the boys battled.

"Before the weekend if you'd told me we would go two and one (wins and loss) on this trip and how thin we were I'd have probably taken it. But it is disappointing for sure."

Fox stressed that Gomel was "a really good hockey team.

"If you look at this tournament a team from Belarus has normally done quite well.

"They have a bunch of KHL experience, they are offensively hard on pucks. Our message early on was not to give them second-chance opportunities, we turned a couple of pucks over and gave them second-chance opportunities and they made us pay."

Fox thought host team Aalborg Pirates, whom Sheffield beat 3-1 last Friday, was "the best team we played, they are probably the most complete team, offensively and defensively and with the pace, they play with.

"Gomel was probably the most offensively-skilled team we played but in saying that we caught them on the third night of a three and three; they had 13 forwards and six defencemen, so we were gassed, we'd emptied the tank.

"That one extra goal (third) cost us. If it had finished at two we would not have needed to have pulled our goalie and maybe we'd have closed the game out. But we didn't."

Steelers finished third in a group of four, Aalborg and Gomel getting through to the finals.

Now the team will return to "regroup and refresh" said Fox, and await updates on the injured four.