SHEFFIELD STEELERS’ defenceman Rod Sarich is hoping to make up for lost time by capitalising on his early return from injury.
The popular 33-year-old defenceman was handed a new lease of life at the South Yorkshire club when they offered him a return to the game he had sat out for 15 months after being deemed surplus to requirements by former coach Doug Christiansen.
Christiansen was axed as Steelers chief after a disappointing six months in charge, replaced by former Cardiff Devils coach Gerad Adams, who guided the club to an unexpected play-off championship in April
The normal summer comings and goings at the Steelers led to a door being opened for Sarich to come back and take up his old position on the blue line for a club he had served so well for eight seasons prior to Christiansen’s arrival.
But only a few weeks after his return to the ice, Sarich was forced to sit on the sidelines after fracturing a bone in his leg after being struck by a puck.
An initial diagnosis saw the Steelers announce that their experienced D-man would be out for at least six weeks. But, after missing just four games, Sarich was back on the ice, helping his team to a 3-1 Challenge Cup triumph at home to Coventry Blaze last Saturday.
Wins against Hull Stingrays and Dundee Stars have quickly followed, giving Sarich plenty to be cheerful about going into this weekend’s league double header against Cardiff Devils, starting with Saturday night’s clash at the Motorpoint Arena.
“It (the injury) is not ideal,” said Sarich. “I’ve said before that I was hoping to sort of stay healthy for the first month or two, get in and get over the aches and pains which I was doing and then this happened.
“So, it was a bit of a setback but, thankfully, not for too long - I was just starting to feel a bit better with handling the puck and in training and all that but it has come back so I’ve done okay.”
Sarich said he was confident he would soon be back up to speed after his short spell on the sidelines, stressing that ……
“I think like I’m getting my game legs back now,” he added.
“The conditioning is coming back - a bit. The first weekend was a bit tough, especially on the Sunday when I was feeling a bit heavy, but it is coming and I think, as a team, we’re finding ways to win and finding out a few things about our team and I think we’re progressing the way we should be.”
Now in his ninth season as a Steeler, Sarich should know as well as most people how the current roster compares with others during his time at the club.
Unbeaten in the league and having already finished top of Group B in the Challenge Cup, hopes are high that Adams can add to the play-off championship he won last season after only having two months in which to make his mark when succeeding the ousted Christiansen.
“As a team, I think we’re pretty solid throughout,” said Sarich.
“There is a lot of depth and in terms of scoring all the D-men have some offensive ability and are contributing.
“Everyone is quick on the team at the minute so that is always a good thing. It does seem like a very balanced team all the way through - all three lines have got a good chance of scoring on any night.”