Every winter weekend, Ben Morgan throws himself in front of 100 mph pucks.
But on a Monday morning, the Sheffield ice hockey player is ‘Mr Morgan’ to the pupils of All Saints Catholic High School, where he teaches History.
There are certainly two different worlds for a skater who chalked up his 500th appearance in the English Premier League for Sheffield, last weekend.
The Steeldogs captain, who turns 29 soon, is an example of a player who has worked his way through every level of hockey in the city, and like newcomers Steeler Cole Shudra and Liam Kirk, is a role model for aspiring stars.
There will be a presentation to Shiregreen’s ‘Morgs’ before Saturday’s game against Manchester Phoenix, acknowledging his service.
His love of hockey started aged eight, watching his brother Lee playing at the old Queens Road rink. Soon he was playing for the juniors and made his EPL debut in 2005 with Scimitars.
After four seasons he made the step up as Dave Matsos signed him for Steelers for the 2009/10 campaign, playing alongside Rod Sarich and Mark Thomas.
Morgan recalled: “I enjoyed my season with Steelers even though ice time was limited. It was great going abroad, playing in the Continental Cup and doing well there, but I thought I’m never going to get well paid in hockey - I need to knuckle down and get a job. Luckily I’d finished my degree and wanted to get into teaching”.
The following year the d-man played for Manchester (his only season away from Sheffield) and won a championship under Tony Hand.
Andre Payette had taken over the newly-formed Dogs and brought in players he knew from his time in Manchester; Pavel Gomeniuk, Greg Wood...and Ben. W
ith the explosive scoring of Janis Ozolins and backed by the stellar net-minding of a 20-year-old Ben Bowns, Steeldogs and Morgan had a standout campaign.
“Winning the league with Manchester was good but that first year back in Sheffield was fantastic: I’d rather finish third with that group of Sheffield guys than win the league with Manchester.
“That play-off semi in Coventry, coming back from 5-2 down at the start of the final period to just lose out on penalty shots -even though we lost it was great. Finishing third in the league and getting to the cup final: such a great achievement for the club”.
Morgan has been a mainstay of the team since, despite his full-time career. “I may have had to mark some assignments on the back of the bus on some away trips and while it’s not ideal for game preparation it’s just something you have to do to keep on top of everything”.
How does the headmaster feel if Mr Morgan comes in with a black eye?
“There was one occasion where I took a puck to the face in Milton Keynes and had stitches. The following day my mouth blew up and the stitches came out when I was talking to a member of staff on the corridor! That evening I was meant to have a parents’ evening, however the Deputy Head said I should think about going home!”
Ben became a father for the first time over the summer : “It’s a massive turning point in my life. I’m 29 soon and although everything is not slowing down, I can feel myself getting older. I know in the back of my mind there’s only so many years you can play.
“I love coming down to the rink. While ever I’m enjoying it, while I can still do it, I’m going to continue. I’m looking forward to when the shirts arrive and Ella will get her own shirt saying ‘Daddy’ on the back – I can’t wait for that”.
“Playing 500 games? That makes feel old. Especially when my D partner is ten years younger. It’s been a privilege to play alongside some talented individuals, some interesting characters. Hopefully there are few more games left in me yet!”