Sheffield Steelers: Why Aaron Fox is confident new signing Matias Sointu is an upgrade on exiting Travis Oleksuk

AARON FOX believes he has upgraded Sheffield Steelers’ creativity after bringing in Finnish forward Matias Sointu to replace outgoing centre Travis Oleksuk.

INCOMING: Finnish forward Matias Sointu, seen in CHL action for Cardiff Devils in 2019, has joined Sheffield Steelers. Picture courtesy of Dave Williams/EIHL.

Fox was forced to make the move after Oleksuk indicated he wished to take up an offer to switch to ICEHL team EC Villach in Austria, a move which would enable his wife to give birth to their child over there.

Once compensation was agreed between the Steelers and Villach and head coach Fox knew he had a quality replacement, Canadian-born Oleksuk was granted his wish to leave.

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“We decided as an organisation that if we could find a suitable replacement and also agree a solution with Travis’s new club we would allow the transfer,” said Steelers' head coach Fox.

Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Aaron Fox. Picture: Dean Woolley/EIHL.

“We were able to agree on a deal with Matias on Tuesday and we think he will come in and make a positive impact immediately.

“He is a very solid forward who can play all three positions. He skates well and thinks the game extremely well .He probably brings a little more offensive creativity than Travis and is a very responsible player.”

Sointu has spent the majority of his career playing in Finalnd's top-flight Liiga before spells in Sweden's second-tier and the EBEL, where he first came to Fox's attention. Fox also remembers the 31-year-old from his short stint at Elite League rivals Cardiff Devils during the early part of the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season.

He also represented his country and the World Juniors back in 2010, having been picked in the seventh round of the 2008 NHL Draft by Tampa Bay Lightning.

Sointu arrived in Sheffield on Thursday night, trained with his new team-mates for the first time on Friday and will go straight into the Steelers’ line-up to face Nottingham Panthers in the Challenge Cup at the National Ice Centre. The Steelers return to league action on Sunday when they host Fife Flyers (4pm face-off).

“I remember him from his time in EBEL and also thought he was excellent for Cardiff," added Fox. "He arrived last night and will join the team to prepare for the weekend. We will try to get him into match shape as quickly as possible. He’s very excited to be here and help us achieve our goals.

“Travis came in a played some solid two-way Hockey for us - he’s not a flashy player but was very responsible and plays the game the right way and I was pretty happy with his play.

“Unfortunately, Sometimes this is the hard side of the business as he informed us he had an offer back in Austria to finish the season. With his wife due in the next couple weeks, mentally they were having a hard time here and really wanted to go back and have the child there."