Sheffield Steelers add depth to squad with two additions

Cole Shudra has signed for Sheffield Steelers on a two-way deal with Leeds KnightsCole Shudra has signed for Sheffield Steelers on a two-way deal with Leeds Knights
Cole Shudra has signed for Sheffield Steelers on a two-way deal with Leeds Knights
Steelers have strengthened the depth of their squad by signing Brits Alex Graham and Cole Shudra on two-way deals.

Both will play mainly in the NIHL, Graham, 19, with Sheffield Steeldogs and Shudra, 24, with Leeds Knights.

The players are ambitious and want to play at the highest level they can, but opportunities will depend on their regular clubs and roster sizes at the EIHL, where there is a limit of 20 (goalies and skaters.)

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Shudra has worn the Steelers shirt 165 times and scored seven goals and eight assists. He is at home playing defence or attack.

Graham has represented the Arena club 59 times, scoring seven goals and five assists.

Steelers' coach Aaron Fox said: "Alex has had a great summer of training and feels he will take another step forward in his development this year.

"He’s such a gifted offensive player that we still feel very good about his ceiling so it’s great to see how that progresses throughout the year.

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"We have first call on him and if we aren’t using him he will be able to play big minutes with the Steeldogs.

"I’m excited that we are able to keep him here for another year.

"Cole is on a Leeds contract with them having the first call option.

"But it definitely gives us some available games to use him when we can and also allows him to train with us when possible.

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"He took great strides last year in Leeds with that extra ice time.

"Another year will only make him a better offensive player. It’s great to have these two back with us."

The more games the pair manage in the top league, the better their chances are of representing Great Britain.

GB coach Pete Russell says he has an eye on players coming through from the NIHL.

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He also will keep tabs on Steeler Brandon Whistle, who didn't make the cut for the World Championships, but came close.

Fox expects a big year from Whistle.

"He needs to keep on trend with the shape of his body. He worked so hard in getting himself light, now he is in a good weight he can still build some muscle mass and put on a bit more of man's body.

"We all know he came in that first year and wasn't in great shape but he worked so hard getting himself into a great playing weight now he's there and will probably get into a stronger shape.

"Making plays...that's what set him apart last year and he was so responsible defensively, when he played, he never made mistakes.

"You could always count on him. He is a skilled, professional guy and it's about building that confidence."