Sheffield Steelers youngster Alex Graham found dead, aged 20
His club, who the 20-year-old only signed with on a full-time basis last month, announced the tragic news of his death at the weekend on their website on Monday afternoon.
The circumstances of his death have not been made clear by the authorities at this early stage, but his death will be felt across the entire UK ice hockey community.
In a statement, the club said: “The Steelers are devastated to advise that Alex Graham sadly passed away this weekend.
“Everyone at the club is heartbroken by the news and wish to pass on our thoughts and condolences to Alex’s family, friends and team-mates. It would be appreciated if Alex’s family could be provided time and space to take in the enormity of this tragic situation in the days ahead.
"Graham, 20, had only recently signed his first professional contract with the Steelers after making 81 appearances since his debut in 2019 and was regarded as an outstanding talent about to make his mark on the professional game. The club will be making no further comment at this time.”
The Sheffield-born youngster was regarded as one, if not the brightest talent of his generation, playing through the GB junior ranks up to the Under-20s earlier this year.
He started his junior career in his hometown before switching to Bradford Bulldogs in 2015 where he remained for two seasons.
He headed back to Sheffield in the 2018-19 season where he made his senior bow for Sheffield Steeldogs.
He then signed a two-way deal with the Steelers – although the majority of his playing time remained with the Steeldogs. That association came to an end just last month when Steelers’ head coach Aaron Fox signed Graham on a full-time basis.
His former club Bradford were among those to quickly pay tribute, stating: “Everyone involved with the Bulldogs now and in the past are devastated to hear of the tragic loss of Alex Graham.
“He was and always will be one of our own, one of the most talented pups to ever come through our junior ranks. But this isn’t about hockey, this is about a young life so tragically cut short.
“Our thoughts, warmest wishes and prayers are with his family now and always. RIP Albert x”
A statement from the Steeldogs – for who he made more than 100 appearances – appeared on their Facebook page, saying: “Everyone at the Steeldogs is shocked and hugely saddened by the news that Alex Graham passed away over the weekend.
"Having been a Steeldogs prospect and then made his senior debut on his 16th birthday, he had been part our family over the past few years, and to lose one of our own, at such a young age is devastating.
"Words cannot explain our feelings at this moment but we send our sincerest condolences to his family, his friends and those who played alongside him. We ask that everyone respect the feelings of those closest to him at this most difficult time.”