Sheffield Steelers: Aaron Fox excited about ‘special’ night back on home ice in front of fans

SHEFFIELD STEELERS’ head coach Aaron Fox admits he is looking forward to a ‘special’ night tomorrow, when his team gets to skate out in front of their own fans for the first time since March 2020.

BACK AT IT: Sheffield Steelers' head coach Aaron Fox at practice earlier this week ahead of the weekend's double-header against Nottingham Panthers. Pictures courtesy of Dean Woolley/Steelers.

The global pandemic saw the 2020-21 Elite League season scrapped, with the Steelers eventually getting to play some hockey in the Elite Series in Nottingham in April.

But that was a behind-closed-doors event, something which promises to be a total contrast to the crowds Fox and his players can expect to ply in front of this weekend in their pre-season double header against Nottingham Panthers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Tonight sees the Steelers visit the National Ice Centre, but it is tomorrow back on home ice at Sheffield Arena, that Fox is particularly excited about, with more than 8,000 tickets already sold.

“To see the uptake in ticket sales right now is incredible and very exciting for us all,” said Fox.

“Fans add something special to games – absolutely. It’s such an electric environment with fans in the building, especially when it is a full house as it looks like we might have on Sunday.

“Obviously we’re in Nottingham on Saturday and well see the fans there as well, but it’s going to be very different being at home – Sunday will be pretty special.”

The Steelers go into the weekend having added goalie Rok Stojanovic to their roster on a try-out. The move has been made necessary due to No 1 netminder Barry Brust’s arrival in the UK being delayed by visa issues and the fact that back-up Curtis Warburton is playing for Bees IHC in their NIHL Cup opener against Leeds Knights.

Sheffield Steelers players are put through their paces on induction day at Sheffield Arena. Picture courtesy of Dean Woolley/Steelers Media.

Defenceman Kevin Schulze, who impressed so much in the Elite Series earlier this year, is the other player still to arrive.

“We decided to bring in Rok on a try-out basis,” said Fox. “He is a big goalie that moves very well.

“We’ve got a couple of guys that we’re still waiting for and Cole Shudra and Brandon Whistle are both with Leeds as their season starts on Saturday. So we’ll be a little short, we’ll only play with 10 forwards and Evan Mosey will move back into defence and we’ll have six D.”

After their exertions with the Knights at Elland Road, Shudra and Whistle are both expected to be part of the Steelers’ line-up for Sunday’s visit from the Panthers, the first home game at Sheffield Arena since Saturday, February 29 last year when the Steelers hammered Fife Flyers 8-2.

WATCH the last time the Steelers played in front of their home fans HERE

“For me, this weekend is just about getting into hockey shape and starting to build some semblance of our identity and work on our concepts,” added Fox. “It’s not a results-based weekend, it’s more about building our group and finding chemistry that might or might not work and build towards the following the weekend, which is my main focus.”