Sheffield Steelers: Making big calls all in a day's work for Aaron Fox

One of the hardest tasks a team coach has to carry out is when he has to inform an athlete that he has not made the team-sheet for an important match.

Friday, 18th March 2022, 1:41 pm

Sheffield Steelers' coach Aaron Fox will have done it a fair few times in his career, and I don't suppose it gets any easier.

Fox had to sit out Tommaso Traversa recently, which maybe wasn't that big a surprise given that top import forward Marco Vallerand was back from injury.

Perhaps a bigger upset was his decision to make Adrian Saxrud-Danielsen a healthy scratch in the first game at Belfast Giants, last Friday.

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SHeffield Steelers' Adrian Saxrud-Danielsen

The 6ft 3ins Norwegian defenceman may not have been mistake-free or playing his best hockey of late, but it still raised eyebrows when he was absent from the roster.

Steelers had lost their previous three games though, conceding 12 goals, so Fox had to do something to shake things up.

Sheffield lost without Saxrud-Danielsen in their first game at Belfast but won against the same opposition the following night when the 29-year-old was restored to the line-up.

He was plus-four on the night, too, in statistical terms, the player had obviously come back with a point to prove.

Fox explained: "Our focus had been on the bounce-back, we had a chat after I had made the decision on Friday, I told him to stay positive because we were going to need him.

"He said 'Absolutely.' He came to the rink, had a good warm-up on the Friday night, and we needed him on Saturday, there."

The coach added: "Saxy has been a little up and down since he came back from injury.

"It was nothing personal, (scratching him) we had multiple conversations about it over the last few weeks, about his game," said the coach.

"Sometimes it is just a confidence thing for guys.

"I think he made a couple of good plays early on in that last hockey game and built some confidence and he played physical had a little bounce in his step and gave us a huge 60.

"That game will go a long way for his confidence.

"It is not like he'd had a lot of bad games, it was just that he was fighting the puck a little bit, fighting the decisions when the puck was on his tape and sometimes all it takes is a good shift here and there to get back to your game."

Fox said Saturday's opponents, Nottingham Panthers had suffered some mixed results recently but they "had been in a lot of close hockey games that maybe they haven't closed out.

"We will come prepared and need that same mindset we have just showed. It doesn't matter who we play right now, we have to bring our best hockey. We have got to be ready to play physical every game."