Sheffield Steelers star wants to 'pop his cherry' again!

Marco Vallerand is eyeing his third consecutive trophy win in the upcoming domestic campaign.

Marco Vallerand - Steelers sniper and funny man
Marco Vallerand - Steelers sniper and funny man

The forward was one of Sheffield Steelers fans' biggest favourites during the 2019-20 campaign, where he nabbed 51 points in 40 games.

He famously "popped his cherry" by winning the Challenge Cup with Steelers, his first title win, in March last year.

Subsequently, with Steelers not being able to play a full season during lockdown, Vallerand pulled on the jersey of two European clubs, Eppan, of Italy and then Olimpija Ljubljana, of Slovenia.

Olimpija were able to furnish Vallerand with the one factor that matters most to him - winning a trophy.

Yet it has been a time of mixed emotions for Vallerand, who is currently observing 14 days in quarantine.

His season had started off at Eppan, a club he played for in 2014-15.

"The Italian lifestyle was awesome and the fact that I had the privilege to be with Dowdy (Sheffield teammate Robert Dowd) and to get to know him better was awesome," Vallerand told The Star.

"That Italian league was very challenging. There was a different pace and flow of the game, the expectations from the club and coach...and Covid stopped us almost every other week. There was no flow to the rhythm of the season.

"Trying to keep form without skating was a real challenge, I’m sure Dowdy would agree.

"And then came a huge opportunity to go and win a championship with the prestigious team that is Olimpija.

"It’s a heart-breaking decision to take when that kind of opportunity shows up. I was caught between doing the right thing and what I wanted to do," said the 32-year-old.

"The right thing would’ve been to stay in Eppan, where I was named captain a few weeks before and to pursue what we’ve been working on for months.

"But at the same time, realistically, Slovenia became a more attractive choice.

"Olimpija was in a league that was never stopped because of the pandemic, so obviously that was a guaranteed salary and bonuses. But more importantly there was the chance to raise a trophy for a second consecutive year - which we did!

"It was once I was on Slovenian ground that I realised it was the right opportunity to take. Even at my age I learned so much from a few of the older players on that team.

"And being coached by Raimo Summanen who was in the NHL and coached in the top leagues in the world; that was a real privilege.

"In the end I got what I came for, we had won the play-off title.

"It had been an absolute honour to be able to go back to my Italian roots in Eppan and I was proud every second I wore that jersey.

"I hope it didn’t leave a sour taste when I left for Slovenia. I lived in that village for three seasons now and I have so many friends there I call it home."

The forward clearly enjoyed his time with Olimpija .

But he said: "We also had a lot of fun in the Challenge Cup," he said, a reference to Sheffield's win over Devils. "I don’t forget that easily. All I’m asking is to have the team to compete for a league championship."