Family and the ice hockey community bid farewell to tragic Sheffield Steelers' prospect

Young Sheffield Steelers’ forward Alex Graham has been laid to rest in a small, private service.
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The funeral was held on Friday afternoon, attended by family and friends.

The ice hockey community was represented by Sheffield Steelers’ conditioning coach Mike Mawer, former captain Jonathan Phillips and Sheffield Steeldogs’ head coach-elect, Jason Hewitt.

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Alex, aged 20, was found dead at his family home in Dronfield, last month.

Alex Graham. Pic Bob WesterdaleAlex Graham. Pic Bob Westerdale
Alex Graham. Pic Bob Westerdale

No cause of death has been made public.

The winger had just signed his first professional contract with Steelers after making 81 appearances since his debut in 2019.

Tony Smith, the owner of Steelers, said the 21 shirt would not be retired but that there will: “Be a ‘Graham 21’ banner at the bottom end of the Arena, going forward, next to the big Steelers banner.”

It will be raised before the exhibition game against Nottingham Panthers on September 9 in what is bound to be an emotionally-charged event for fans and the club alike.

Cole ShudraCole Shudra
Cole Shudra
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Smith added: “We will have his name will be painted into the ice, like that of (Czech defenceman) Marek Troncinsky.”

‘Tron’ died aged 32 in May 2021.

Graham’s spot on the roster has gone to his long-term friend Cole Shudra, who has now left Leeds Knights, in the NIHL, to return to his home club in the EIHL.

“Cole has been a Steeler since the day he was born,” said the owner.

Tony Smith centre ice with Aaron Fox and Carter Beston-WillTony Smith centre ice with Aaron Fox and Carter Beston-Will
Tony Smith centre ice with Aaron Fox and Carter Beston-Will

“It is cruel fate, unfortunately, that he is coming in for Alex, but Cole is going to pick up and he is going to do what he should have done since day one.

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“He is going to play on the fourth line to start with, I’m sure, with a view to climb up the ranks.

“I have every confidence in Cole, he is a great kid, a fantastic person, and a Steeler through and through.

“When we had him last time he wasn’t quite there when we tried to use him as a swing guy.

“But he went to Milton Keynes under Tim Wallace, played in the mini-series (for Coventry Blaze) then went to Leeds where he scored all those points last season (56 games; 50 goals 63 assists.)

“He has shown he can do it and now he can step up and do it in the big league.

“I have no doubt he will eventually make it.”