Blossoming Cole Shudra shoots for the top with Sheffield Steelers

Cole Shudra and dad Ron Shudra. Pic by Hayley Roberts.jpgCole Shudra and dad Ron Shudra. Pic by Hayley Roberts.jpg
Cole Shudra and dad Ron Shudra. Pic by Hayley Roberts.jpg
​​ICE hockey ace Cole Shudra is helping drive Sheffield Steelers to their first league title since the player himself was just a 17-year-old prospect.

The skater, from Kiveton Park, was learning his trade with junior sides Steelhawks, Scimitars, Spartans and Steeldogs when Paul Thompson's class of 2015-2016 was lifting the UK season's biggest chunk of silverware.

Shudra, son of Steelers' legend 'Rocket' Ron, started to attract attention from clubs at the top end of the scale as he turned 18.

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He played a dozen games for Steelers in 2016-17 before plying his wares at Milton Keynes Lightning, Nittorps IK (Sweden) and Coventry Blaze before arriving at second-flight Leeds Knights in 2021.

Cole Shudra at Nottingham Panthers. Pic by Dean WoolleyCole Shudra at Nottingham Panthers. Pic by Dean Woolley
Cole Shudra at Nottingham Panthers. Pic by Dean Woolley

That is where his game really came together.

In April, he helped the team to the NIHL National league and play-offs double. The number 27 looked set to play there this season too until the heart-breaking death of his close friend Alex Graham, who had nailed a full-time job at Steelers.

Shudra, with maturity beyond his age, stepped in to Graham's shoes and is now looking every inch an EIHL player.

His goal ten minutes from the end of Boxing Day's 5-1 win over Nottingham Panthers – his team's 75th of the campaign – sent the majority of the 9,368 fans home happy. It was a hefty slapshot from centre blue line that his father would have been proud of although it wasn't such a big surprise for the fourth-line contributor to register on the Arena scoreboard. In his previous 11 games he had hit the net four times and assisted on five others. The 6ft 2ins skater added another assist in the 4-0 victory at Nottingham on December 27 and another against Manchester Storm three days later.

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Suddenly, Shudra, at 25, is showing the promise and consistency at elite level that he had illustrated at Leeds.

And nobody would have been more proud than Dad. Later, he posted on social media that there wasn't a much better feeling in ice hockey than: "Scoring a bomb, in front of a sold out Boxing Day crowd, at home, against Nottingham!”

The Rotherham Rocket's performances could put him on the radar for Great Britain as they prepare for their Olympic qualification round in Cardiff in February and the World Championships in May.