Canada v USA – Familiar faces take to Sheffield Arena ice for good cause

Kevin Bieksa, in his Anaheim Ducks. Picture: Derek Leung/Getty ImagesKevin Bieksa, in his Anaheim Ducks. Picture: Derek Leung/Getty Images
Kevin Bieksa, in his Anaheim Ducks. Picture: Derek Leung/Getty Images
ON three previous visits to the FlyDSA Arena this season, Zack Fitzgerald only inflicted misery on the Sheffield Steelers fans who used to idolise him during the time he spent there as a hard-nosed defenceman.

Three visits with the Glasgow Clan, who he joined after leaving the Steelers last summer, resulted in three wins for Fitzgerald’s team, two of those victories producing six goals for the visitors to leave his former team-mates humbled.

Tonight sees the 33-year-old American pay another visit to the venue, although this time it is all in a good cause, with the result coming a distant second to the main reason behind the event.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Fitzgerald will be one of the more well-known faces taking to the ice tonight for a USA team facing rivals from Canada.

Players involved include former NHL stars Kevin Bieksa and Brandon Bollig, as well as a host of other names to have graced the world’s top league, with others hailing from the AHL, and ECHL, together with a sprinkling of familiar faces from the UK’s Elite League.

The 2019 Ice Hockey Super Series game is being staged in the UK for the first time having spent a number of years in Australia and thousands of ice hockey fans are expected to flock to South Yorkshire tonight.

As well as bringing a number of former NHL stars to the UK and hopefully growing the game further here, there is a serious message behind the event, with the aim being to raise awareness and funds for concussion-related charities.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

To that end, the StopConcussions Foundation are teaming up with UK-based brain injury charity Headway.

Zack Fitzgerald. Picture: Al Goold PhotoZack Fitzgerald. Picture: Al Goold Photo
Zack Fitzgerald. Picture: Al Goold Photo

As one of the toughest defenceman to have played in the UK in recent years, concussion is a condition that Fitzgerald has first-hand experience of and is keen to do anything to highlight what is a constant issue in ice hockey and other high impact sports.

“Concussion has always been an issue in the game,” said Fitzgerald. “You never want to see a guy get a head injury and it happens all too often. I’ve been on both ends of it, where I’ve received the concussions and there have been some cases where I’ve been involved with it the other way around. So to make people more aware of it, to try and prevent it and learn more about it, is a great thing to be involved with.”

And while tonight’s game will have a slight exhibition feel about it, Fitzgerald says the old USA v Canada rivalry will ensure there is a competitive edge.

“It’s always fun to have that competition,” added Fitzgerald. “We’ll have a bit of banter and it will provide a bit more competition to the game.”