Why Sheffield Steelers’ coach Aaron Fox is so glad to have Tanner Eberle back for Elite Series

ANY worries Aaron Fox may have had over Tanner Eberle’s readiness for action with Sheffield Steelers in the Elite Series have been swiftly blown away at Ice Sheffield this week.

IN THE THICK OF IT: Tanner Eberle makes his presence felt against Glasgow Clan last season, Picture: Dean Woolley.

The 27-year-old forward from Saskatchewan is the one member of Fox’s roster brought in for the five-week, behind-closed-doors tournament not to have seen any competitive action since March last year.

His last act in a Steelers’ shirt, of course, was helping the organisation end a 17-year wait for a Challenge Cup trophy when they beat Cardiff Devils 4-3 in South Wales.

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First impressions put Sheffield Steelers coach Aaron Fox in confident mood for E...
BACK IN THE GAME: Sheffield Steelers' forward Tanner Eberle at Ice Sheffield earlier this week. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Less than a week later and Eberle, along with his fellow imports, was scrambling to get a flight home across the Atlantic, as the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the remainder of the 2019-20 Elite League season.

Since then, of course, Covid-19 has continued to have a major impact on the sport in many parts of the world, leaving Eberle without a team until the UK top-flight was able to finally put something together in the form of the Elite Series which gets underway at Nottingham’s National Ice Centre on Saturday.

Despite his lack of competitive action in recent months, Eberle, who thrived under Fox last season when posting 57 points, including 27 goals in 62 appearances, was one of the first calls the Steelers’ head coach made when putting his roster together. And, having seen the tenacious winger on the ice this week, Fox is glad he did so.

“We’re two days in and everybody has been looking in good shape,” said Fox. “I was a little bit worried about Ebs because he hadn’t played since last March but he’s looked good and his compete level is through the roof.

PLEASED: Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Aaron Fox. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“He’s just one of those guys who doesn’t back down from anything and he’s really up for the challenge. He looks as fit as anything to me, so I don’t think there is any issue there.

“He’s great to be around and he’s great for the room - he is one of those guys who, when, you watch out there on a minute-20 shift all you see is bang, bang, block a shot, standing in front of the net and taking a puck wherever it hits him, he’s just so good for our team.”

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