Video: Aaron Fox ponders tactical change for two big names at Sheffield Steelers

Aaron Fox thinks he can get more out of two Sheffield Steelers' forwards by tinkering with a formation which had been favoured by his predecessor Tom Barrasso.

By Bob Westerdale
Thursday, 02 May, 2019, 19:12

The new team boss is visualising putting John Armstrong and Robert Dowd on different lines, in the hope that they will blossom in next year's Elite League.

Fox said he'd watched Dowd and his centreman Armstrong together during the last 14-15 games of last season, in a "top-line role playing against the other team's first line."

Robert Dowd of Great Britain (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

He said: "I would like to split those two guys up, I think.

"I think Dowdy needs to play with a pass-first centre. Play with a little more pace.

"Army - I'd like him to play with a second line that grinds it out a little bit, uses the offensive zone to their advantage and uses his body a little bit more.

"At the end of the day, chemistry is going to be a big thing for us."

Sheffield Steelers' John Armstrong attacks Belfast's goal

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Fox described Armstrong as "a quiet leader. He is one of those guys who plays the game the right way, big, heavy, two-way forward, responsible in his own end. Also has a pretty high-end offensive game."

The new coach is looking forward to the impact of his first signing, Marc-Olivier Vallerand.

Steelers had been chasing him last Summer but "he had some issues with his family they weren't interested in coming back to the UK so he tried Europe" said Fox, who said the forward was a "really, really offensive, flair type of guy".

"With him and (Anthony) DeLuca coming back you have a couple of guys that have NHL releases, NHL shots, they play with an extra speed when they get the puck.

"Anthony we need to work on getting him in camp better shape...he was one of those guys from the first day I watched him, he just came to you the most. He made the most plays, he created the most chances."

He said the winger was still young (24) adding: "There is a lot to work with there still.

"If he buys in and wants to become a legit two-way hockey player the sky is the limit for him."

*Dowd and his GB team-mates play Slovakia in a final warm-up before the World Championships on Saturday night.