Sheffield Steelers: SPOILER ALERT – Mikko Kuuka won’t give up his spot without a fight
Every ice hockey team has a spoiler or two in their ranks and Mikko Kuukka is enjoying filling that role at Sheffield Steelers.
The 34-year-old veteran was signed as six-week injury cover in mid-October and has played 11 games under Aaron Fox's command.
Kuukka suffered some wretched luck at Manchester Storm on Sunday, his brave attempt to block a shot saw the puck deflected off him and into goal.
But he has played his part in the club's victories in his time here - his debut, for instance, came in the 10-3 win at Fife Flyers.
Now, with Aaron Johnson a possible returnee from injury this weekend or next, he will be keeping an eye on the number of Steeler imports able to ice.
Kuukka said he would have to talk to the club about his position as his current deal comes to a close, and Johnson returns to the fray from a hand-injury, subject to a meeting with his surgeon.
"I came here to help this team to win and I know there are some guys coming back to the line-up, you never know what is going to happen," said Kuukka.
But he said he had valued the experience so far at the EIHL club - it is the first time he has played outside Finland in 14 years.
"I have been playing a lot with Canadian and US players so the hockey is always the same, the style here is a little bit different but when you walk through the dressing room all the hockey players are the same.
"It doesn't matter which country or which city you go to, it is all the same.
"I can tell you this was really easy to come and walk through that door because everybody has been really nice and really helpful to me," he said.
Asked what he liked about being a defensive defenceman, the one-time Finland U20 player said: "I like to play against the other team's best players, I like to shut them down.
"Their job is win the game for their team, my job is shut them down and get a chance to us to win a game."
He said he had played a lot of penalty killing in the Finnish league.
He has yet to score a goal or assist for Steelers, but he says: "Ofcourse, I want to make some points too, but the best thing is the team wins."
*One Sheffield import defenceman whose job appears to look safe is Marek Troncinsky - a few days ago, the club's own twitter account paid tribute to his "mega performances."