UNLIKE some of his former Sheffield Steelers team-mates, perhaps, Cole Shudra won’t be returning to South Yorkshire with Milton Keynes Lightning tonight intent on proving a point.
The 20-year-old is back in Sheffield for the first of at least three visits to his parent club this season as part of a Lightning side he joined on loan in the summer.
Under new coach Doug McKay, Shudra is in a Lightning side that contains three former Steelers players who he played alongside last season.
Andreas Valdix and Tim Wallace were jettisoned as part of a major clear-out by Steelers head coach Paul Thompson back in April, while fellow forward Eric Neiley has joined them after a short-lived retirement.
While Valdix and Wallace may be keen to show Thompson he was wrong not to ask them back for the 2018-19 campaign, Shudra is only interested in improving significantly enough to earn a regular starting slot the following season back with Sheffield.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to get more ice time and develop as a player,” said Shudra, who recorded five goals and four assists for the Steelers last season.
“I fully understand the reasoning behind me going out on loan. They’ve got a full roster in Sheffield and are competing for a title – in Milton Keynes we want to be pushing for the play-offs.”
Thompson believes he will get a player back next summer all the better for the experience.
“My thinking with Cole has not changed – he will get increased minutes with the Lightning, more than he will here with us at the moment,” said Thompson.
“We’re looking to bring him back next year with all of them good, quality Elite League minutes under his belt. It is a process and a move we feel is right for him at this stage in his development.”
We’re looking to bring him back next year with all of them good, quality Elite League minutes under his belt. It is a process and a move we feel is right for him at this stage in his development.Paul Thompson on Cole Shudra