Steelers’ coach Aaron Fox lifts lid on Nico Feldner’s disappointing spell in Sheffield

Steelers' loanee Nico Feldner is rebuilding his form and confidence with the Austrian national team.

Thursday, 21st April 2022, 9:33 am

The 23-year-old forward was a last gasp deadline day signing.

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However, after a bright start, he failed to deliver the offensive punch that many Sheffield Steelers' fans had hoped for.

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He'd started on the club's first line in his debut against Dundee Stars, whom Sheffield meet again in the Play-Off quarter-finals this weekend.

But in the six games he went on to represent his loan team, Feldner managed just one assist.

Sheffield lost four of these six matches, although no one can blame the new boy for the way the results went.

At any rate, Feldner was dropped from contention.

Nico Feldner playing at Belfast.

The "big bodied forward who had a breakout year in Austria this year" - as the club initially described him - simply hadn't managed to embrace the UK hockey vibe.

A week ago, Aaron Fox allowed him to leave the country to play in trial games for his Austrian national team, further evidence that he didn't figure in short-term plans at the critical end of the season.

Fox could have brought him back at any time but has been content to see him develop back home.

So was the player and his coach disappointed about how things had panned out in Sheffield?

Aaron Fox.

Fox said: "I can't speak on his behalf, he came in when we had a bunch of injuries and I felt his first weekend was probably his best.

"From there, it is not like Nico didn't play good, it is maybe he didn't stand out like everybody hoped and would be the huge difference-maker in that way.

"It got to a point where we lost a couple of games and I would have had a decision to make to sit Brandon Whistle or one of the other import forward and didn't see the justification in that time, considering how other guys have played.

"We went on a little run and when the national team called it was hard for me to sit here and say: 'Stay here and sit in the stands.'"

Brandon Whistle.

Steelers' owner Tony Smith had hoped that Feldner would be an impact player when he came in, at the beginning of March.

"He has taken time to settle into the team and the EIHL game, which is different from what he has been used to.

"But we have still got the Play Offs to come and hopefully all the guys will start to shine in these last few weeks of the season, we will have to wait and see what the Play Offs bring" said Smith.

Steelers will be hoping Vojtech Polak and Keeton Ellerby will be back from injury for the games against seventh-place Dundee, who managed an average of almost a point a game over the 54-match EIHL regular competition.