WHILE Aaron Fox will have rightly felt pleased at his Sheffield Steelers’ team being Christmas No 1, he will have been quietly hoping for a different kind of festive wish to come true heading into the second half of what is developing into an enthralling Elite League title race.
As it stands ahead of Steelers’ Boxing Day showdown at FlyDSA Arena against Manchester Storm (4pm), Fox’s team hold a slender two-point advantage over the Cardiff Devils, with defending champions Belfast Giants a further two points back.
Both have games in hand on the Steelers, although Belfast can still only draw level with the Steelers if they win those matches.
Admittedly, if Cardiff win all four of their games in hand on the Steelers, they would be firmly in the driving seat. But, as Devils’ coach Andrew Lord would perhaps quietly admit to himself, that is a big ‘if’.
Regardless of the different permutations, all Steelers’ head coach and GM Fox is hoping for come the turn of the year is for his team to stay and, more importantly, get healthy.
As it stands, Fox has three first-choice defenceman missing in the shape of player-assistant coach Aaron Johnson, Jonas Liwing and James Bettauer while, more recently, British forward Robert Dowd suffered a potentially season-ending injury in Saturday’s 5-3 home win over Glasgow Clan.
While Dowd’s return is unlikely until the very final throes of the current campaign - if at all - Fox will hope to see some positive movement over the coming weeks regarding his other three other injured warriors.
“For the run here, we’ve just got to stay healthy and try to find our groove a little bit,” said Fox.
“We’ve had a different line-up every night, we haven’t played with 14 imports at all this year, even though we’ve carried a couple extra but that’s been because of the injuries we’ve suffered.
“For us, it’s about finding a way to get healthy and playing to our identity every night and producing a little bit more consistency.”