Paradise Lost - Liam Kirk reveals how a freak injury has delayed his bid for US stardom

South Yorkshire's NHL hopeful Liam Kirk has revealed how a small groove in a playing surface in "Paradise" has cost him the chance of staking a claim to feature this season in the world's top leagues.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 10:31 am
Liam Kirk traning with Sheffield Steelers. Picture by Dean Woolley

The Great Britain international, who has been awarded a three-year entry-level contract with Arizona Coyotes, tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a freak incident while playing for American Hockey League affiliate Tucson Roadrunners earlier this month.

The hole in the ice pad was at opponent Henderson Silver Knights' rink in Paradise, Nevada.

He went under the knife and told The Star: "I’m doing okay, surgery went well, just in rehab now for a while.

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"I just caught my skate in a rut as I was going to hit someone on the forecheck and felt a pop. Now my season is done.

"It sucks, no one ever wants this to happen but it’s part of being a hockey player. I am staying here for the rehab. It is a long process, strengthening the knee again."

And Kirk's injury will hit GB too, he'll miss May’s World Championships in Finland.

Kirk won't be seeking home comforts as he starts a long process of rest and recuperation.

The Maltby-born skater, aged 21, is happy to stay under the sunny skies of Arizona: "It’s good, nice weather" he said, adding both Coyotes and Roadrunners have been supportive since his injury.

During his time off, the forward caught up with some of the Steelers' action in the Continental Cup in Denmark.

In September, the American website hockeywriters.com reported that the "British phenom Liam Kirk has caught both the fans’ and coaching staff’s attention" at training camp.

In the same month, the South Yorkshireman was also named as one of the tip 10 NHL rookies to watch out for, by Sports Illustrated.

Meanwhile, Steelers have lost their place on the top of the Elite League. They had been at the pinnacle since October 10 when they won 6-3 at Guildford Flames.

Ironically it is Guildford that has taken their spot, courtesy of a 4-2 win over Glasgow Clan.

Flames could be three points clear of Sheffield by the time the two meet in Surrey on Sunday, as they play Fife Flyers on Saturday, away.

Steelers have a Challenge Cup home game against Nottingham Panthers on that night. They have sold more than 7,000 seats so far.