Sheffield Steelers looking to sign an aggressive defenceman to clear the net – maybe Zack Fitzgerald Mark Two?

Steelers are looking to recruit the toughest defenceman to have patrolled their defensive zone since Zack Fitzgerald ruled the ice.

By Bob Westerdale
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019, 16:03

Last season, Sheffield didn't really have a mean-streak defenceman who would displace attackers from around their net in ruthless fashion.

Ryan Martinelli had the size and the presence but didn't play a hugely aggressive game.

Fitzgerald was the last in that mould. But new coach Aaron Fox is looking for a player who can police the blue line effectively.

He has just signed Swede Jonas Liwing - but he is an offensive, skilled defenceman, rather than a bruiser.

When The Star suggested last year's team lacked a defensive enforcer, Fox replied: "I think it is nice to have that physical presence in front of the net, there are some guys on our list right now that we are working on that will fill one of those roles, so we will see whether this process takes us.”

Recruitment depends on who is available at the best price, he said but added: "One of the 'D' I am working on right now is a big bruising, physical D that would help

Zack Fitzgerald

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us a lot."

Fox said he had executed extensive background checks on Liwing to ensure he was not only fit enough but had the hunger to go for at least another season, at the age of 36.

"His game translates really well to how we want to play” said the coach.

"He is 36 years old but is a true veteran player he keeps himself in great shape, never looks out of control out there, under pressure - he doesn't seem under pressure, makes the first pass always makes good decisions, runs the top of the power play, extremely well.

"Great patience, good shot, a little bit of a 'pass-first' guy I'd say - he can jump in the play and he can defend.

"He is one of those guys that is not overly physical" said Fox, but said his stick was "always in the right place."

"The levels he has played at and the pace of that level he has played at I feel he will come in here and do a different thing here."