'I'll be ready for Steelers' says Shudra

Cole Shudra says he'll be fired up for Wednesday night's EIHL meeting with Sheffield Steelers.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 11:50 am

The 22-year-old has been a work in progress for the Steelers since 2016 and they'd hoped to draft him into the squad for the ongoing mini series.

Instead, Coventry Blaze nabbed him and that's the club he'll line up for at Nottingham Arena (7pm.)

Shudra is full of respect for the Steelers' class of 2021 but badly wants to beat them.

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"I know a lot of them, of course, it will be fun playing against them rather than with them. I'll get fired up for sure" he said.

"Obviously, we want to win, that is what we are all here for.

"But I am not going to treat it any differently. It is just another game at the end of the day and hopefully we will come away with two points" he said.

Shudra has been placed on defence on a line with another Great Britain U20 product Sam Russell and their Midlands team has performed well in the opening two games.

Cole Shudra warms up before Coventry game. Pic: Scott Wiggins
Cole Shudra warms up before Coventry game. Pic: Scott Wiggins

Blaze got an overtime point in the 3-2 loss to Manchester Storm and then eased past Nottingham Panthers 3-1.

That puts them a point above Sheffield and in second place in the four-team table.

The average age of the Coventry team is 24.6, compared to Steelers' 27.8.

"We have got a much younger team than I have ever really been a part of, mostly Sheffield teams have more veteran guys" says Shudra.

Robert Dowd: a serious threat to Blaze defence. Pic Dean Woolley

"We have got a few guys just coming out of college, and in their first year as pro, and it's been nice to link up with younger guys that I've played for with GB.

"We have got a great group of guys and it will be exciting to see how we do going forward."

Shudra watched Sheffield's first game of the tournament, the 3-2 win over Nottingham.

"They looked pretty decent," he said. "It was unfortunate they lost the goalie (John Muse) to injury but nonetheless they have got a pretty experienced team, players that have played in good leagues, so it will be a good challenge for us."

Jason Hewitt - a team-mate of Cole's father back in the day.

The defenceman is well aware of the firepower at Sheffield's disposal.

"Robert Dowd is a great goalscorer, he is one to look out for. The big guy they have got (Sondre) Olden - he was pretty skilled when I saw him play against Nottingham. They have got some decent forwards but if we play our systems right I think we will match up against them well."

Shudra will come up against Jason Hewitt, now 37, on Wednesday - a player who was on the same Steeler team as his Dad "Rocket" Ron, now 53, back in the 2005-6 season.

Kevin Schulze goes into the midweek showdown with Blaze on the back of two fine games for Steelers where he has unexpectedly become the leading points scorer for the club.

Schulze's consistency on the Nottingham pad was illustrated by his weekend points on the board - two assists in each of the opening EIHL Series games, more than anybody else in the mini League.

The 27-year-old American is also the only Steelers' player on a +2 in the plus-minus statistics.

That is on a par with the best +/- performances of players on the other teams in the tournament.

Liam Kirk is the EIHL's top scorer, he has dispatched three after shooting on goal more than any other competitor.