AARON FOX is keen for his Sheffield Steelers team to find their ‘groove’ sooner rather than later in order to avoid being left behind in the race for the Elite League championship.
The Steelers currently lie joint-second in the regular season standings with Cardiff Devils, both teams three points adrift of leaders Glasgow Clan.
But, ahead of tonight’s first league clash of the campaign against Nottingham Panthers, head coach Fox said he is seeking more consistency from his players, whose longest winning streak in the league is four games.
Tonight’s game against the Panthers is the first in a tough seven-game stretch that also heralds three meetings with defending champions Belfast Giants, as well as encounters with Cardiff Devils, Coventry Blaze and a second tussle with Nottingham.
“I really feel like we’ve left some points out there this season and I’m sure there are some other teams who are looking in the mirror and saying exactly the same thing,” said Fox, who welcomes forward Michael Davies back from suspension,
“But we’re going to need to string together a good stretch of games here, sooner rather than later, if we want to take the league seriously as a top competitor
“I don’t think teams are going to hang around all year and we’ve got to find a way to get in a groove.”
While Davies returns from his six-game ban Fox will have to do without fellow forward Anthony DeLuca, who was handed a one-game ban for a check to the head during last week’s 8-5 loss in Glasgow.
Further frustration comes with defenceman and assistant coach Aaron Johnson likely to be out injured again days after making his long-awaited comeback against Coventry last Saturday.
It’s a theme which has frustrated Fox, who has rarely had the benefit of choosing from a full-strength roster.
“It would be nice to stay healthy and stay off the suspensions and have a full team,” he told BBC Sheffield. “I think we’ve had one game all year where we’ve had a full roster where, on paper, look like the team we want to look like.
“So we’ve been dealing with that side of it, different lines every night, different power play units almost every other night and we haven’t been able to find that groove, if you will. But, hopefully, sometime soon we’ll get that.”
I really feel like we’ve left some points out there this season and I’m sure there are some other teams who are looking in the mirror and saying exactly the same thingSheffield Steelers’ head coach, Aaron Fox