Video: How Cole Shudra grew up at Milton Keynes Lightning and will now bring that maturity into Sheffield Steelers' line up
Cole Shudra left Sheffield Steelers as a boy - and returned as a man.
The skater was loaned out to Milton Keynes Lightning for the 2018-19 campaign and experienced some pretty extreme highs and lows.
MK lost players from their roster throughout a season of financial uncertainty, chronic results and internal strife.
Ultimately, the club slipped out of the Elite League - but by then Shudra had learned a lot and developed his game.
"I thought it was a great experience, I got to get out of my comfort zone and move away from home which is something I had not done before” he told The Star.
“That allowed me to mature as a person and then the hockey side of it I got to play more minutes in all situations. I am thankful for everything that Milton Keynes did for me."
Shudra, now 20, returns to the Steelers fold ready to compete for a place - but won't forget the character and resolve of his former Lightning team-mates when the club was in free-fall.
"We had a really good set of guys and it was mostly positive throughout the year we just tried to keep a positive attitude even through all the stuff that was going on. We just tried to put it behind us and get on with the hockey side of it."
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It was particularly tough when a player left because of their short roster, he said.
"I think everyone pulled their own weight and we got through it all together.
"The fans there are a different breed and they know that they are just unbelievable and that was the stand-out thing for me. It was their support all year through - if we were losing if we were winning, they were just the same loudness every single time, it was great."
He said whenever they played Steelers, his mindset was to try and think of them as just another team.
MK’s 3-2 win at Sheffield Arena last September had been a special night for Shudra, as well as other ex Steelers, Tim Wallace, Eric Neiley and Andreas Valdix.
"That was a good start to the season and if we had carried on that way we would have probably done a little better in the year but it was a good win to start the year."
The player "learned a lot, grew up a lot" during the 46 game period at MK but says he is glad to be back in Sheffield, under new coach Aaron Fox, to pursue some silverware.
*Mark Matheson has unexpectedly signed for Nottingham Panthers, after Steelers did not offer him an offer for next season.