FOR two decades Ashley Tait has been plying his expert trade across the ice hockey pads of Great Britain and Europe.
Now, with his 36th birthday looming on September 9, any thoughts of taking life easy are far from his mind.
The veteran winger is as committed to aiding Sheffield Steelers’ defence of the league title as anybody at the club.
But it is the offence that Tait has been asked to focus his expertise on, in particular.
His coach Ryan Finnerty says: “This week has been hammering out our systems and I have asked Ashley (Tait) to run the Power Play in games.
“Special teams win games and Ashley knows how to put the right guys in the right positions.”
Finnerty quipped: “I am comfortable with him taking this part over, after all he has been on every Power Play since the 1960s!”
Tait, who started his career with Nottingham Panthers in 1990, will be a key component for Finnerty as his side try to hit the ground running. Steelers face off their new league season in Belfast tonight, and, for once, they are the underdogs.
“Belfast will come out flying, it’s a big challenge,” said Finnerty. “They are many people’s choice as possible champions, which suits us, we like being underdogs, it puts the pressure on them.
“There has been a lot of hype over there, they will get a big crowd but we are ready to go in there and get to work.”
Defensively, Finnerty expects another fine showing from former Texas Stars AHL d-man Matt Stephenson, who impressed last weekend against Cardiff Devils, in back to back friendlies.
“He is going to be a pillar back there for us,” insisted Finnerty. “It is great to see him communicating with the other players, he knows about leadership. Overall, we seem to have a good group, respectful, the right age and eager to get on with the job.”
Steelers first home clash will be against Dundee in a week’s time.