From LCN to NHL: Steve Oleksy

Chris Popovich ‘14
Reporter/Columnist

 

Hard work, perseverance, and grit would be a few words to define Steven Oleksy and his route to the NHL.
Oleksy was born in 1986 in Chesterfield Township, Michigan, where he attended L’Anse Creuse High School-North and graduated in 2004. Hockey runs in the Oleksy family. Steve’s brother Daniel played hockey at Oakland University in Rochester, MI. Although Steve never played hockey for North, he played football during his freshman and sophomore years, and he played varsity baseball at LCN.
In high school, Oleksy played AA travel hockey for the Troy Sting and the Great Lakes Panthers. Oleksy also played with Team USA at the 2008 and 2009 IIHF Men’s InLine Hockey World Championships.
After a couple of years at the AA level, Oleksy played Junior B hockey for the Detroit Metro Jets. The next year, Oleksy played Junior A hockey and NJCAA College baseball at the same time. But Steve decided to give up college baseball when he was offered a hockey scholarship at Lake Superior State University, where he played three seasons of NCAA Division I college hockey as a defenseman.
In his three seasons, he had a total of 20 points in combined goals and assists, according to NHL.com. In 2008, Oleksy played two professional hockey games with the Las Vegas Wranglers. He would move to different teams throughout the ECHL for the next few years. Oleksy’s big break came when he joined the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and was signed as a free agent for the following 2012–13 season in the AHL with the Hershey Bears.
After 55 games, Oleksy was third in the league in penalty minutes, many of those from fighting. Oleksy was signed to his first NHL deal with the Bears’ affiliate, the Washington Capitals. He was then immediately recalled to the Capitals. In his NHL debut, he got an assist for Washington in a 4–3 comeback victory over the Boston Bruins on March 5, 2013.
“It is just like any other day now,” said Steve’s brother, Daniel. “At first it was awesome, but having played at a pro level, it is not overwhelming. It’s still cool to watch him play at the highest level on national television.”
In his first season with Washington, Oleksy had nine points to help the Caps make it to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Oleksy knew he had to continue to work hard to contribute value to the Washington Capitals and spent his summer with challenging workouts.
At the quarter mark of the current NHL season, Oleksy has helped the Caps to second place in the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division, trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins by four points and leading the New York Rangers by two points.
Oleksy is also community-minded. He recently participated in the Washington Capitals Movember Mustache Charity, the annual charity event that encourages men to grow their mustaches for a month and to raise money for cancer research. Oleksy also participated in LCN’s Annual Joel Zito Alumni charity game in July 2013 at the Mount Clemens Ice Arena, playing with current and former LCN varsity hockey players.
“It felt neat to play with a pro. I learned a lot things in an hour and a half. It is an inspiration to see him graduate from LCN and grow up in a small town like Macomb,” said Kristian Alafriz ‘15.
Ask any hockey player and most of the time they will say playing in the NHL would be a dream. Steve Oleksy is lucky enough to have the opportunity to make that dream a reality.

Steve Oleksy in transition during an NHL game with the Capitals.

Steve Oleksy in transition during an NHL game with the Capitals.