For a player who led the scoring for the Steelers during the 2019-20 Elite League season, the fact the 35-year-old drew a blank in the first three matches of the behind-closed-doors tournament in Nottingham may have come as something of a surprise.
But a four-point game in Tuesday night’s 5-3 win over Coventry Blaze saw Connolly – this morning named in the GB squad for next month’s World Championships – return to the kind of production Steelers’ fans were used to seeing from him more than 12 months earlier.
Aaron Fox’s team face the same opponents tonight, the first of three remaining games in the group phase at the National Ice Centre.
“Scoring goals and generating offence is what I’m here for,” said Connolly, who now has three goals and seven assists to his name in nine appearances.
“I’m the kind of player who always likes to play a good two-way game, be responsible in all aspects and be the kind of guy who can be put on the ice for all kinds of situations, whether that is on the penalty kill, the powerplay, whatever.
“It feels good at the moment and it feels like I’ve been working hard and I felt that the points would eventually come.
“All you can do is take care of your game and the points generally tend to follow.”
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Head coach Fox, meanwhile, remains hopeful import goalie John Muse will be available before the tournament comes to a close.
The 32-year-old American has been ruled out since pulling up in the opening game against arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers on April 3.
“It’s never fun to lose your import goalie at the beginning of a five-week mini-series, but I’m still hopeful that we’ll see him at some point,” Fox told BBC Sheffield. “We need to have a couple of real positive days come Friday and see how he feels then.
“We may not get him for the semi-final but we may get him for that following Saturday if we get that far, which is obviously our goal.”
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