First impressions put Sheffield Steelers coach Aaron Fox in confident mood for Elite Series

IT may only be the halfway point in his team’s short Elite Series training camp, but Sheffield Steelers’ head coach Aaron Fox already likes what he sees.

CONFIDENT: Sheffield Steelers' head coach Aaron Fox at Ice Sheffield earlier this week. Picture: Dean Woolley.

After Monday’s induction at Ice Sheffield saw only some of his hastily-assembled roster take to the ice, the subsequent 48 hours has allowed Fox to really start getting up close and personal with his charges. Some of the faces, such as Jonathan Phillips, Davey Phillips, Robert Dowd and Brendan Connolly, will be very familiar, forming as they did an integral part of the Steelers line-up which last year ended the club’s 17-year wait for a Challenge Cup trophy during Fox’s first season in charge.

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Others, such as Norwegian defenceman Adrian Saxrud Danielsen and Czech Republic-born centre Josef Mikyska are unknown quantities but, it would seem, all newcomers have made a good first impression on their new boss.

BACK IN THE GAME: Tanner Eberle has not played competitive hockey since Sheffield Steelers' Challenge Cup triumph last March. Picture: Dean Woolley.

The triumphant Challenge Cup campaign was, of course, cut short – as was hockey the world over – because of the coronavirus pandemic, which is why Fox finds himself holding this week’s camp in South Yorkshire at a time of year when he would normally be coming towards the end of a season.

Fox has limited time to ready his players for a gruelling five-week, behind-closed-doors tournament which will see them become overly-familiar with Elite League rivals Nottingham Panthers, Coventry Blaze and Manchester Storm, playing 14 games in 26 days with the potential for a three-game playoff final.

“I’m really happy with everyone so far, it is looking really good after a couple of days,” said Fox.

NEW FACE: Czech Republic-born centre, Josef Mikyska. Picture: Monika Majer/Getty Images

“We’ve tried not to make it a case of information overload for the players with it only really being four days of training camp.

“I want to try and put some systems in but, again, I don’t want them over-thinking out there too much, so we’re just going to play reactionary hockey until we get into it a little bit more.”

Fox said he expected adrenaline to play a big part on the opening weekend for players, particularly on opening night.

“I’m sure this first weekend might be a little bit up and down,” he added. “But that should be entertaining for the fans and as this thing moves on there will be a little more structure that comes into it.

“I’m assuming Saturday’s game will have a great start and the adrenaline will take over towards the end of it.”

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