Sheffield Steelers: Teen will bounce back after Niagara IceDogs disappointment

Steelers' coach Aaron Fox has told hot prospect, Alex Graham, he can rebuild his career quickly after he was released by his major junior ice hockey team in the Ontario League.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 1:07 pm

The Dronfield-born winger, who has played 29 times for the EIHL club, was axed by Niagara IceDogs a few days ago.

He'd hoped his opportunity in Canada would have been a springboard to bigger things.

But Fox says with hard work and determination, the 18-year-old former Sheffield Steeldogs' regular can bounce back.

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"I like Alex, he's a good kid," said the coach.

"He is a good, talented player too, I know he has worked hard this summer, working on his conditioning, so I just feel like there was some bad luck and bad timing for Alex with that (Daniil) Gushchin, the Russian kid, getting sent back down from the NHL team (San Jose Sharks.)

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"He (Gushchin) is probably the best player in that league this year so it doesn't open up that import spot for him.

"It's a little bit of bad luck there for Alex."

Fox's message to the teenager was: "Nothing comes easy in this game, just get your head down, get back to work and the next opportunity you get, take it."

Meanwhile, Steelers are recovering from their exhausting weekend, when they harvested maximum points in games over Manchester Storm and Coventry Blaze.

The shoot-out win at the Skydome on Sunday was a gruelling, penalty-filled encounter in which they had trailed for most of the game but had the energy and composure to eke out a road win.

Alex Graham has been released bu Niagra IceDogs. Picture: Karl Denham

Fox praised the penalty killers and goaltender Rok Stojanovic who helped drive the victory, secured in the end by two penalty shot goals from John Armstrong.

The coach added that by February the team might look back at that night in Coventry relieved to have grabbed two points they perhaps didn't fully deserve.

Skipper Jonathan Phillips praised both goalies involved, Stojanovic and C.J. Motte as "unbelievable."

He said 'Rok' had won them the two points.

Sheffield Steelers celebrate scoring at Coventry. Pic Scott Wiggins

"We want to be a team that grinds out those kind of wins" said Phillips.

Sheffield are commencing their planning for Guildford Flames, whom they play home and away this coming weekend.

Fox said they had done some scouting on them and their rivals "looked fast."

He said his side would have to be "aware defensively" against them.

Coventry remain top of the EIHl by one point, having played one more game than second-placed Sheffield.