Sheffield Steelers: Travis Oleksuk insists age is an advantage

Sheffield Steelers have the oldest team in the EIHL - and that cumulative experience and hockey knowledge could be a key advantage as the season unfolds.

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 10:12 am

That is the view of import and face off specialist Travis Oleksuk, who joined Sheffield Steelers in the summer.

The Canadian has played eight games in the regular League programme and Challenge Cup so far and is building up his own knowledge of the team and the league.

He rates the EIHL highly and believes Sheffield roster's hockey IQ will be critical going forward.

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Travis Oleksuk, Steeler new boy. Pic Dean Woolley

The elite division is a quick-paced league in which teams motor speedily up and down the ice, he said.

"It is a physical league, a lot of different rinks with shapes and sizes you have got to play a little different in certain areas.

"There is a lot of skill in this league.

As for us, I think we fit the mould perfectly...we have a little bit of an older team so we have got experience here, guys who think the game really well and we are capitalising on our chances, which is nice."

Veteran: Jonathan Phillips.

Steelers' line-up has an average age of 29.71, just ahead of Cardiff Devils (29.52.)

Manchester Storm has the youngest squad (25.95.)

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Oleksuk, 32, who has played in Europe over the past five seasons, is the Steelers' premier face-off technician. He has 54 wins, ahead of Justin Hodgman (41) Brendan Connolly (34) and John Armstrong (33.)

Veteran: Brendan Connolly.

The centreman is keen to continue his successes on the face-off dot.

"It has always been an area of the game where I try to strive," he said. "I play Penalty Kill and I play some Power Play so normally I am taking the draws there.

"It helps to have the puck off the start it makes my shift a little easier on the PK and makes it a little more fun on the power play.

"I have worked on it. With backhands I just try to be quick on the puck and, forehands, I just basically try to slap it to the winger. It is a pretty simple concept! The wingers have given me a lot of help so far."

What is Travis Oleksuk’s style of play?

The forward has scored two points so far, both in the same match, a Cup game against Storm.

He would like to improve on that, which may mean shooting more.

Explaining his regular playing style he said: "As my career has went on it (his style) has been a more of a playmaker. I look a little too much at times to pass, obviously, there are a lot of times when I could shoot, and I end up passing so it is something I have to work on. But I envisage myself as a playmaker, trying to set up my linemates."

Steelers will be interested bystanders as the IIHF Continental Cup programme takes place this weekend. Coach Aaron Fox will find out the identity of his team's final group opponents by Sunday afternoon.

So far, they know that they will face Danish hosts Aalborg and HK Gomel from Belarus over the 19-21 November weekend.