Why speed is the key for Sondre Olden to make up for lost time with Sheffield Steelers in Elite Series

SONDRE OLDEN is looking forward to swapping practice sessions for game-time after signing up with Sheffield Steelers for next month’s behind-closed-doors Elite Series.

Norway's Sondre Olden vies with Latvia's Janis Jaks at the 2019 World Championships in Bratislava. Picture: Monika Majer/Getty Images

The 28-year-old Norwegian international arrives in South Yorkshire with an impressive resume, reuniting with head coach Aaron Fox, who labelled his latest import signing as “a game-changer.”

And for Olden, the chance to play at least 14 games in less than a month at Nottingham’s National Ice Centre will be a welcome change after, like so many players, enduring a frustrating season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The last three months have seen him do little more than practice back home in Norway having seen the domestic season cancelled early due to Covid-19.

NEW EXPERIENCE: Sondre Olden celebrates a goal for Vienna Capitals against EBEL rivals EC Redbull Salzburg in February last year. Picture: Stephan Woldron/Getty Images

A third round NHL Draft pick for the Toronto Maple Leafs back in 2010 saw the winger play only a year of junior hockey in North America before returning to Europe, playing in his native Norway and the Swedish top-flight before hooking up with Fox for the first time in the EBEL with Medvescak Zagreb.

He then switched to rivals Vienna Capitals midway through the 2018-19 season before heading home for the 2020-21 campaign to play for Vålerenga, the team he first played for after reurning from Canada.

“It’s going to be a really important few weeks for me, seeing as we haven’t played since January, so it’s going to be huge to get 12 games in a short time,” Olden told BBC Sheffield. “I’ve only been training for the last three months now, so it will be great to finally play some games again.”

Fox said he was pleased to get the chance to work with Olden once again, a player he believes will add a dynamic edge to his Steelers’ roster for the Elite Series.

FAMILIAR FACE: Sondre olden will once again team up with Sheffield Steelers head coach Aaron Fox, the pair having worked together in Zagreb. Picture courtesy of Dean Woolley

“Sondre is a dynamic offensive player that is a game changer,” said Fox. “It will be good to work with him again, we were together in Zagreb and he was a top player for me and in our league.

“I’m excited to have him here for this series to show him what a great spot Sheffield is and hopefully help us achieve our goals in this series.”

Like many British players taking part in the Elite Series, Olden hopes the month-long competition will help prepare him for the World Championships in Lativa, in May-JUne, although he is unlikely to get chance to play against those new Steelers’ team-mates who make PEte Russell’s GB squad, with Norway being in a different group in Riga.

“With the World Championships coming up, I’m really looking forward to playing so many games,” added Olden. “I think we’re playing every third day or something, so it’s always good when you get the chance to play a lot of games.

“I’ve only heard positive things about the English league. I like to play a fast game and my strength is my speed. I’ve kind of been a goalscorer for the past couple of years but, before that, I was a playmaker, so I think that is a good mix but, obviously, my speed is the biggest strength.”

Olden’s arrival comes two days after Steelers’ announced the capture of American defenceman, Kevin Schulze, who heads to the UK having played last season in the DEL with Nürnberg Ice Tigers.

The EIHL today released the various streaming packages available for fans to watch the Elite Series online from April 3. To watch all 24 regular-season games will cost £149; to view all 12 of your chosen team’s regular-season games will cost £99; to view all six of your chosen team’s home regular-season games will set you back £69, while a one-off game pass will cost £13.

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