Cole ​Shudra inspired to Sheffield Steelers success by his dear lost friend

Cole Shudra in the win over Fyfe Flyers Picture: DEAN WOOLLEYCole Shudra in the win over Fyfe Flyers Picture: DEAN WOOLLEY
Cole Shudra in the win over Fyfe Flyers Picture: DEAN WOOLLEY
COLE SHUDRA had an "extra special" reason to help guide his ice hockey side through to the play off finals.

Last summer the Kiveton Park forward was handed a spot in the Sheffield Steelers' squad of 2023-24 – one that had been vacated because of the tragic death of his friend, gifted winger Alex Graham.

Shudra accepted the promotion from lower league Leeds Knights and was determined to play this season with 21-year-old Graham in mind.

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He certainly did that last Friday when he played at iceSheffield, the rink he and Graham effectively grew up in.

Happy days for Alex GrahamHappy days for Alex Graham
Happy days for Alex Graham

Overall, the Great Britain skater played a significant part in his side's aggregate 13-5 Elite League quarter-final victory over Fife Flyers.

His contribution was particularly valuable in the home leg, which had to be played at iceSheffield because the Arena was hosting a Take That gig.

Shudra had played all his junior hockey at the facility as well as a semi-professional stint with the Steeldogs.

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In Friday's first leg, the 25-year-old was man of the match and scored twice, a feat he'd managed only once previously over the EIHL regular season.

Steelers' official Dave Simms revealed: "Pre-game, I was stood with Cole looking on to the iceSheffield ice.

"He looked at the Alex Graham banner that hung over the one goal and said: 'It would be nice to do it under that banner, wouldn't it.'

"A couple of hours later he scored twice under that banner, assisted on a third and won man of the match.

"I guess Graham was looking down on you, Cole."

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Shudra, son of Steelers' all-time favourite Ron, said to win so handsomely and "to do it under the Graham banner was extra special and it definitely gave me an extra pep in my step".

Now Shudra has his heart set on bringing a third winner's medal back to Rotherham.

On Saturday his club faces Guildford Flames in the play-off semi-final at Nottingham Arena.

Wins on Saturday and in Sunday's final will provide the big fan base with the Grand Slam of League, Challenge Cup and play-offs.