Video: Sheffield Steelers enforcer welcomes fresh tough-guy talent

Steelers’ Elite League opponents have been out shopping for tough guys.

But that doesn’t bother Sheffield’s resident enforcer Zack Fitzgerald, who has seen it all before in his 17-year career.

Tough newcomers on the block this season include Brian McGrattan, Nottingham Panthers, Jay Rosehill, Braehead Clan, Patrick Borderleau, Cardiff Devils and Garrett Klotz, Coventry Blaze.

Fitzgerald always welcomes the arrival of new policemen to leagues he plays in.

“They keep guys under control, keep them accountable.

“They work hard, they play aggressively, they play physically and they do their job” he said.

The arrival of ‘fresh meat’ was “nothing I am not used to, nothing I am afraid of. There is nothing I won’t do and continue to do, it is part of my job and I am happy to do it.

“I want to stand up for my team-mates I take pride in that.”

He said dirty play would be rife without teams employing a strong-arm enforcer - “stick-clashing, cross-checking, dirty kind of play, you don’t see that so much when you have guys like that in the line up” he said.

“They police the game and keep guys honest. That is the way I’ve known since junior hockey. That’s the way I play.

Zack Fitzgerald in action for Sheffield Steelers

Zack Fitzgerald in action for Sheffield Steelers

“Everybody has got nerves, you are putting yourself out there, bare knuckle fighting, a lot of things can go wrong, a lot of injuries can come from it. But we are happy to do it.

“I take pride in it and it is something that will always be part of my game.

“It is not going to go away, it doesn’t matter who it (his rival) is. I am not afraid of anybody, that’s for sure” said the fans’ favourite.

“I have got respect for those guys, hopefully they have for me.

“We are going to fight it out and after we are going to shake hands and move on.

“And if we have to do it again, we have to do it again.”

The 31-year-old American shares his coach’s concern that Sheffield’s team-defence has been leaky recently.

“We have definitely had a few breakdowns in the last few games. It is a disappointment” he admitted.

“But it is nice and early in the season, those are things you can work on and get better.

“I think we all had a kind of a mental lapse, puck-watching a little bit; it bit us in the rear end, and we will get better from it.

“We have got to be better we are going to take responsibility for it and make sure next weekend we have that extra bite.”

READ MORE: Click here for all the latest news from the ice hockey scene