Travis Oleksuk: new Sheffield Steelers star wants dynamic start to EIHL career
Travis Oleksuk already recognises the value of hitting the ground running when he makes his debut for Sheffield Steelers.
The EIHL club's latest signing has been used to a career where the play-offs are the main target.
But in the UK, it's the League title that is treasured most - and Steelers haven't won that since Paul Thompson was at the reins in 2016.
Oleksuk knows a few early wins under his new team's belt will be imperative.
"The main goal every year is to do whatever it takes to win the championship," he said.
"And, yes, I heard that is winning the league. So that puts a lot more pressure on getting off to a good start because the games at the start of the season are just as important as the last ones of the regular season."
On a personal basis, the Canadian centreman wants to help ensure Steelers do not leak goals.
He takes pride in removing the danger from his own end.
"I think for me being strong defensively is where it all starts," said the 32-year-old forward.
"If you are strong defensively you’re going to get out of your zone faster, create more turnovers which will lead to offence.
"Obviously scoring goals and setting up teammates is nice too."
The skater has, like many fellow professional athletes, had to vary his regular summer training routine, because of the pandemic.
"Our summers are spent half in the Chicago suburbs and half in Thunder Bay, Ontario" he said.
"So currently we are in Thunder Bay. And here, due to Covid, gyms actually just opened last Friday.
"So it has been different trying to train but my brother has a small gym in his garage that I have been using.
"I normally train with weights three or four times a week then run two or three times per week."
Oleksuk, who played last year in front of Swinton-born goalie Ben Bowns at Graz99ers in Austria, will be joined in Sheffield with his family.
"I have my wife Dana, my son Harvey who is almost two and a half and a newborn on the way due on October 31."
They player has spent the last five seasons away from his north American roots, the first two in Bolzano and three in Graz.
He helped win the EBEL Championship in Bolzano in 2017 and played in the Champions Hockey League for Graz in 2019.