Venus excited to see Blaze team take shape
At just 23 years' of age, 2017/18 will be Ross Venus' eighth Elite League season with the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze.
Having focussed heavily on the defensive side of the game in his early professional career, the Solihull born Blaze academy product is widely considered one of the best penalty-killing players in the British game.
The past campaign though saw Venus post career high offensive numbers, celebrating 9 goals and 12 assists in all Elite League competitions.
"Obviously team success is the most important thing, and missing the playoffs for the first time was a massive disappointment for all of us, but putting that aside, overall I was quite pleased with my personal performance," said Venus reflecting on the past season.
"I would put the fact that I had my best year for points down to being able to play with a little more freedom offensively than what I have in previous years. This led to more confidence making plays and I hope to take that into the new season and beyond."
Despite the career year, Venus narrowly missed out on a second appearance at the World Championships as Team GB earned a gold medal and promotion to World Championship Division 1 Group A in Belfast.
“Of course I was disappointed as it's a huge honour to play for your country and something I will always be striving towards each season. However, there is lots of competition for places, which can only be a good thing for the future of GB hockey. I watched all of the games online and the team definitely deserved their gold medal!”
The success for Team GB crowned a glorious career for Venus’ long-time teammate, Blaze’s all-time leading appearance holder Russell Cowley.
With Cowley hanging up his skates and another popular British figure, 41-year-old Ashley Tait moving on, along with a number of other import players, the 2017/18 Blaze line-up is set to look a lot different when they hit the ice against the Manchester Storm on Wednesday 23rd August.
“It's difficult to see so many guys leave the team, some of which you develop close friendships with,” reflected Venus. “I can't say enough about Russ and Ash. They are both legends of British hockey and great guys as well who I've had the pleasure of playing with. They have had a huge influence on my career, helping and teaching me things along the way, that have helped shape me in to the player and person I am today. That said, change is part of the business and I'm really excited watching the team shape-up during the off-season and I can't wait to meet all of my new teammates.”
One new face joining Venus on Danny Stewart’s line-up will be 24-year-old Luke Ferrara who joins the club following two Elite League Championships and a Playoff title with the Sheffield Steelers.
“Me and Luke were line-mates for GB U20's in Ukraine, and we've played together for the senior team too,” said Ross. “Luke is a very smart player at both ends of the ice and a great person as well. I'm excited to be playing on the same team as him again.”
Off the ice, this past week Venus was pleased to confirm graduation from Coventry University with a 2:1 in Sport Management.
“First of all, thanks to everyone for their kind words and support. I really enjoyed studying at Coventry University, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. My final dissertation was on sponsorship objectives in the Elite League. There were many different elements to the findings but I won't get in to them now as I will bore you all to death!”
Spending the summer working with a sponsor of the club, as well as supporting charity by participating in the Bethany-Shannon memorial game, Venus concludes, “I have a training plan in place and am preparing myself the best I can for the upcoming season. Aside from that and work with a kind Blaze sponsor, I have a couple of holidays planned and then we’ll be right back at it in August.”
See Ross Venus and the new 2017/18 Genting Casino Coventry Blaze hit the ice for the first time on Wednesday 23rd August at the Skydome Arena. Ticket information will be available shortly.