Steelers ace 'lucky' to have dodged the worst of Covid

Brendan Connolly - Sheffield Steelers' man of the moment - says he feels lucky to have emerged virtually unscathed after contracting Covid 19.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 1:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 1:30 pm
Brendan Connolly goes for goal

The Canadian tested positive a few months ago when he was playing for Greenville Swamp Rabbits in the ECHL.He made a full recovery in time to return to Aaron Fox s side for the ongoing EIHL tournament.On Tuesday, he was at his best, and most curmudgeonly, in Steelers' 5-3 win over Coventry Blaze, scoring 2+2.In one sequence of the game, he gave away a penalty to create a 5-on-3 disadvantage, came out the box to set up a goal, got involved in a shouting match and scrum, made another goal and then took another penalty with three minutes remaining!It was a four point, six penalty minute match for the 35-year-old ball of energy.And the game and his previous eight Sheffield matches has proved beyond doubt he had no ill-effects from coronavirus.Looking back at his illness during his time in America, he said: "We got it off a road trip, we were flying from Indianapolis back to Greenville, got in, went home, had the day off the next day and I started not to feel great the next day."It was a back-ache, body aches type of thing, so I decided I'd better be safe than sorry and go in and get tested before practice and sure enough I had it."My back was a little bit sore for three days, eventually after about a week I lost my sense of smell and taste. But overall I didn't have it too bad."Obviously, it is highly contagious and affects everyone differently, so you have to be aware of it and you have to do what you can to not pass it on, and meet the parameters that are set for it."Some people struggle with it. Thankfully for me I didn't and my wife didn't either so we are definitely lucky."Connolly said four or five of his team-mates also tested positive.Now, though, the centreman is focusing on helping deliver wins for Steelers in the mini-series.At the first break on Tuesday night, the skater said the team needed to be more in control of discipline, which turned out to be easier said than done.Connolly said it was the lack of consistency in officiating that made his blood boil the most."We are carrying the play a lot of time. Guys are fighting through a lot of slashes, hooks and holds then all of a sudden the puck turns over and we get a penalty for something that probably happened 10-15 seconds earlier."I think that's the frustrating part, you get a little confused about what you are allowed to do and what not because it seems to be different with each team and with each player."He said he was trying to recalibrate as, in the ECHL, players could "get away" with more physicality than in the UK.Coach Fox recognises that Connolly is at his best when he is "on the edge" and generally-speaking had reigned in some of his avoidable penalties."I very rarely have an issue with Conns, to be perfectly fair. There was a three week period at the beginning of last year...but we have gotten on the same page."Fox also paid tribute to Josh Waller, who hit the post after a rink length skate against Blaze.The coach apologised to him at the end of the game for not being able to give him more ice time, due to the penalty situation."He said: 'absolutely no problem,' he is a great kid, a great teammate."*Injured John Muse has only a slim chance of playing in any of the three remaining regular games in the tournament. Fox rates him as doubtful.

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Fox admitted he "had a horrible feeling from the beginning" that the goaltender would not recover to play at all.

Brendan Connolly gurning on the boards