So who is Sheffield Steelers' new 'Yorkshire Yank?'

Unless you're an aficionado of Sheffield Ice Hockey Academy, you might not have recognised the name Ben Churchfield.

Thursday, 20th August 2020, 9:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 1:11 pm

Sheffield Steelers' fans certainly do now - he's recently signed as a goaltender.

But few know the 'boomerang' lifestyle the Brit has experienced over two decades.

A life which has seen him bounce back and forth over the Atlantic.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

So who is Ben Churchfield: and how much of a Yorkshireman is he?

Actually he was born in North Shields, but moved to Bawtry, Doncaster, aged six months.

His father John played rugby for Rotherham Titans and captained Halifax. His grandad worked in the steel mills at Templeborough.

Ben's jet set cycle, however, began at the age of four.

Ben Churchfield: Yorkshire Yank

His family moved to Dallas, Pennsylvania where he learned hockey simply to make friends, watching the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, (Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate.)

Four years later, the family moved to Ranskill (Bassetlaw.) Yet soon they were back in Dallas where he picked up his hockey association with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.

Oddly, he played against Team England in an exhibition game during this time.

Jason Hewitt: One of Churchfield's favourites.

After four years, the travel bug bit again; the family moving to Hooton Levitt, near Maltby.

While studying GCSE and A Levels at Mount St. Mary's College, Spinkhill, he spent most evenings at iceSheffield under the watchful eye of Ben Bowns, Swinton's GB custodian who has just left Cardiff Devils for Graz 99ers (Austria.)

"Ben would bring me to train with Steeldogs, who later selected me as an Academy player," Churchfield said.

"I'm also thankful he brought me to train with Hull Stingrays when he made his first step to the EIHL."

Churchfield's first season in Attercliffe had been with the U10s.

He recalled: "My first game was against a very good Kingston side that beat us 10-1. Scott Conway taught me a few harsh realities pretty early on," the 24 year old recollected.

"Ron Shudra was one of our coaches and Cole played on the same team. Liam Kirk was on the team as well and his older brother Johnathan who plays for Hull (Pirates) now was with me most nights at iceSheffield aged 14-18.

"My friend Charlie Thompson's mother Michelle took me across to watch Steelers as we grew up. Jeff Legue was a standout with Jonathan Phillips, Robert Dowd, Ashley Tait and Jason Hewitt. In net, I remember Mustokovs and DeCaro, who had black and orange pads I was jealous of!"

In 2014, it was time to pack the suitcases again.

"Hockey was my priority but my parents always stressed the importance of my education" he said. "After A levels, the Steeldogs offered to sign me and I also got the opportunity to play for the Knights. To get the best coaching I felt the US was the right path."

Now Churchfield is eagerly awaiting his first season back 'home' as a Steeler - look out for a further interview with the 'Yorkshire Yank,' in The Star, soon!

Keep up to date with all the latest from Sheffield Steelers via our dedicated Twitter account @TheStarSteelers, or join our Steelers Facebook group.