It is fair to say that hockey players as big as Mark Simpson typically skate slower than those around them.
But at six feet five inches tall, the new Sheffield Steelers’ forward is showing an impressive turn of speed.
When coach Aaron Fox signed him back in June, he commented: “He skates extremely well for his size which I think will cause real problems in this league.”
And that seems like that is going to be an accurate assessment.
The 28-year-old Canadian, who competed in his first season in European rinks last year, knows what he needs to do to succeed on the larger ice pads.
The former KalPa (Finland) and Asiago (Italy) forward put himself “through a lot of effort in the gym in the Summer time, working on skill training and lower body strength.
“I take a lot of pride in that because I know especially in Europe with the big ice it is important to be a good skater.”
Simpson’s stride, energy and reach have been a feature of the pre-season which saw his new Sheffield side win three out of four matches.
His combination with Scott Allen and Brett Neumann suggests good things to come in the EIHL campaign that starts on Saturday, against Coventry Blaze.
“It is an easy game with those guys on the ice,” said Simpson.
“They bring a lot to the table in terms of their speed, their hockey sense and supporting each other.”
On the forecheck he was impressed by how his linemates supported each other.
Goals will come when they throw pucks on net, the former Stockton Heat player predicted.
Simpson isn’t precious when it comes to which line his coach plays him.
“I am going to do whatever I can to help the team win” he pledged.
“If that is a fourth-line role I will put my head down…there is a lot of depth up front so you’ve got to bring it every night or guys are going to come and take your spot.
“Having that internal competition is great for our group and translates to good hockey on the ice” he said.
Simpson, a penalty-killing expert, said the EIHL standard compared more than favourably with the central European ICEHL, where he iced in 31 regular games and two play off matches.
He thinks the Sheffield team could compete with anyone in that division, especially with the depth at the coach’s disposal.
“I have been nothing but impressed by the pace of play and the quality and talent that is on the ice. I am really looking forward to what this team can do here.”