Cool Alex Graham follows the Liam Kirk way

Teenager Alex Graham won't be overawed by the weight of expectations when he makes his debut in the Ontario Hockey League.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 10:46 am

The Dronfield-based winger has exchanged Steeldogs for IceDogs, and Sheffield for Canada, after being drafted by major junior ice hockey team Niagara.

It's a wonderful opportunity to showcase his talents, as Steeler Liam Kirk did before him at Peterborough Petes, another OHL set-up.

Kirk has now agreed a three-year entry-level contract with NHL side Arizona Coyotes.

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Niagara's website has made it clear they believe Graham, 18, can be a huge success in their colours.

They posted: "He plays a power forward style of game, has great size and strength, he has more than held his own in men's leagues in the UK since he was 16 years old. But his shot is definitely the best part of his game.

"He has an incredibly hard shot, he can get it off quickly with pinpoint accuracy. He can score from pretty much anywhere in the offensive zone, in any situation.

"He has the intelligence too. He can make quick decisions, he sends smart passes to his team mates, he knows exactly where to be on the ice to sneak in and receive a pass or score a goal. For the scoring potential alone Alex Graham is a very fine player to look out for."

So no pressure there then!

Graham feels no stress over what is expected of him.

"I think there is always some expectation to produce to some sort of level" Graham told The Star.

"I think it (expectation) is something you have to take in your stride and try and not just live up to it but do as much as you can to exceed it.

Alex Graham.
Alex Graham.

"And if you can't reach it, don't take it to heart so much. I don't think I need to worry myself too much about reaching a certain target, I will just do the best that I can."

Graham will be partly prepared for the experience of playing in north America, as he spent time in Iowa, USA (Tier 1 Elite Hockey League) aged 13.

"I was there for a full season, with a billet family, it will be similar in the OHL" said Graham.

"We were at a school out there, I was with (ex Steeler) Kieran Brown and Dan Crow, a young goalie.

Liam Kirk.

"So I should be able to adapt later this year, like I did the first time.

"It should be easy to adapt to because living with a family is not going home to an empty apartment on your own."

Graham says the chance to impress overseas is an exciting prospect.

"It means loads to me, to get the opportunity to play out there and hopefully follow in Kirky's footsteps.

"Hopefully it will be a bigger window out there to show what I can do.

"Like Kirky, I just want to get to the highest level that I can. He is one to look up to, he is just doing so well, he thrives wherever he goes."