Sheffield Steelers coach Aaron Fox welcomes ‘tough’ opening night to 2022-23 Elite League season

AARON FOX says Sheffield Steelers have been handed the perfect test after learning they will kick off their 2022-23 Elite League campaign with a home clash against Cardiff Devils.

The Steelers’ head coach is still in the process of putting together his roster for next season, his primary target being to end a six-year wait for the EIHL regular season title.

Several familiar faces have been confirmed already, including Great Britain trio David Phillips, Jonathan Phillips and Robert Dowd, along with Brandon Whistle, Evan Mosey, Martin Latal and defenceman Kevin Schulze.

Of main interest will be who Fox plumps for as his No 1 goalie, with British duo Jordan McLaughlin and Curtis Warburton confirmed as back-ups, both on a two-way deal with NIHL National outfit Hull Seahawks.

UP FOR IT: Sheffield Steelers head coach Aaron Fox Picture: Dean Woolley

Whichever other new faces Fox brings in, though, will likely face a baptism of fire when the Devils visit on opening night on Saturday, September 10, with what is always a tricky trip to Guildford Flames the following evening.

But Fox is happy for his team to be handed an early test to see where they are at in comparison to a team who will no doubt be one of their main rivals again.

“It’s a great way to start the season,” said Fox. “We’ll go into that game knowing we’re up against a team that’s going to be going all out for all the trophies again.

“When I came in they were the benchmark we were trying to close the gap on. They’ve got a good returning group and some old faces coming back who have previously won with them.”

Sheffield Steelers forward Martin Latal is one of a handful of players returning for the 2022-23 Elite League season. Picture by Dean Woolley

Cardiff looked like ending the season in the same way as Steelers without silverware until they denied Belfast Giants a treble by beating Adam Keeffe’s side in the play-off final.

Fox added: “Any time you don’t win what you’re hoping to, you’ll always have bit of a bad taste in your mouth and so you come back the next season wanting to get off to a strong start and there will be few better teams to check where we’re at at the start of the season than Cardiff.”