Audio: Sheffield Steelers ice hockey enforcer quits the rough stuff...for now

Zack Fitzgerald promises to be a good boy in Steelers’ two Champions League games, tomorrow and Saturday.

The enforcer is normally the first skater to dish out the physical stuff. But he knows that extended time in the penalty box against Frölunda Gothenburg in Sweden and Finnish side JYP Jyväskylä will mean goals flying in against his Sheffield side. The d-man focussed on avoiding the ref’s displeasure last weekend in friendlies against Braehead. He said it was important to “keep my cool and keep my stick down. On the Power Play they are highly skilled; you can’t give them any chances.”

Zack Fitzgerald - behaving in Europe (hopefully) Pic: Dean Woolley

Zack Fitzgerald - behaving in Europe (hopefully) Pic: Dean Woolley

Fitzgerald knows the scale of the task ahead for the EIHL champions. “Swedish teams are very skilled, it is a country that keeps a lot of their top players. They are lucky to have the kind of payroll that keeps good players. The few that go over to the NHL are top players there. They treat their teams very well. That’s not to say that we don’t but they will be flying in a private jet and have a buffet on the plane!

“At the same time we are all hockey players and we are not going to change anything; we are going to go out there and use our style of play against them.”

The American believes the Scandinavians may shy away from “a little physicality” adding: “We have some speed and a lot of skill as well.”

Fitzgerald said it was “bitter sweet” to reacquaint himself with Braehead fans last weekend - his former club’s supporters jeering him when he slipped.

“I thought there was a pretty good mutual respect. It was unfortunate that some have to use petty things to try and get under my skin but I love it. You can boo me all you want I am going to give it back to you. I am not going to sit there and take it.

“They chirped me about money - well I am making less here. This team wants me. It doesn’t hurt my game it gets me fired up.”

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