As the 2018-19 MK Lightning roster grows, we invite you to get to know the players a little better. In this exclusive interview, Cole Shudra – who will join on a season-long loan from Sheffield Steelers – tells us about why he’s coming to Milton Keynes, playing for Great Britain and his passions away from the ice pad.
Welcome to Milton Keynes Lightning Cole, how are you feeling about the new season since signing on the dotted line?
I feel very excited – I can’t wait for the season to start after seeing how welcoming the fans are and I’m looking forward to meeting them! I definitely feel happy about joining the team and I’m just excited to get started.
Doug McKay is very keen on helping to develop and give chances to young British players. After speaking with Doug, what sealed the deal for you?
He seemed very excited about working with me and that’s what drew me towards joining the team even more. The fact that he really cares about player development means a lot to me because I know he will spend extra time helping me improve my game to take me to that next level that I’m striving towards.
The Steelers fans have been full of praise for you as a player, how will it feel playing against Sheffield in the new season? Will you feel an added pressure when you face them?
Yeah they’ve been great and very understanding of my decision, which is what you want when you leave a club – even if it is on loan. It’s going to be strange being on the other side of the ice for warm up, being on the opposite bench, and just being on the other team. I think it will be a fun experience and one that I am very much looking forward to.
You are joining us on a one year loan from the Sheffield Steelers who are obviously an established outfit in the Elite League. How has your experience been with the Steelers so far and how valuable was last season for you in your development as a player?
My experience with Sheffield has been very good, the organisation is very well run and very professional, I’ve had a lot of time on and off the ice with good coaches and of course Danny Mawer the Strength and conditioning coach. Last season was very valuable as I was able to play a decent amount of minutes which helped me with confidence and ultimately improved my game a lot.
How will you be preparing for the season throughout the summer? Will you take a short break or continue training and practising whenever you can?
I have been preparing for a couple of weeks already now, I’ve been in the gym doing my summer programme that Danny has given me, and I feel great at the minute. I haven’t had a chance to get on the ice yet as it’s not available as much as we’d like it to be in the UK, but I’m sure I’ll be able to get on a few times before preseason starts.
Away from ice hockey, what is your main passion? Is there something that helps to take your mind off the pressures of the season?
Any other sport really – basketball, American football, golf – I enjoy watching them as it takes my mind off of hockey and sometimes you need to do that just to give your mind and body a break from it.
You’ve already had the honour of representing Great Britain, how did it feel pulling on the GB jersey for the first time at such a young age? How is playing for GB different to playing for your club?
It’s probably the best feeling I’ve ever had knowing that you’re pulling on a jersey that represents your country and where you have grown up – especially Great Britain because we’re not viewed as a hockey country, so it’s nice to be able to prove that we are and that we have some talent. Playing for GB is different than playing for your club because it’s tournament hockey; it’s 5 games, which isn’t many, and it’s a full team of British guys instead of only having 5 or 6 Brits on the team. Having grown up and played with most of the guys on the GB team it makes it a fun trip and makes the hockey more enjoyable and competitive.
Lots of young hockey fans will look at players such as yourself as real inspirations. What piece of advice would you give to those who are hoping for a future career in Ice Hockey?
My advice would just be to have fun doing what you are doing, if you enjoy playing hockey and have a passion for it, work on it whenever you can on and off the ice because that’s how you are going to see big improvements in your game. So just have fun with it.
We have added to our squad over the past few weeks – are there any players you are particularly looking forward to playing alongside?
Of course I’m looking forward to playing alongside all of them, I think we’re putting together a competitive team and I’m sure we will have success together. I’m excited to see who we sign next!
What expectations do you put on yourself when going into the season?
The only thing I expect of myself is that I give my all every game and if I and the team get success through doing that, perfect!
Do you have any pre-match superstitions?
Not really no, I usually arrive pretty early to the game, get my sticks ready and taped up, go through my warm up and play some 2 touch football – that’s pretty much it for me!
Finally, as a player what sort of qualities can the MKL fans expect to see from you? What qualities do you feel you’ll add to the squad here in Milton Keynes?
I feel like I can bring a good two way game and contribute both offensively and defensively, i enjoy interacting with fans off the ice and hearing what they have to say good and bad as I feel it’s good to get a view from a fans perspective. I know the atmosphere in MK is very loud and I love that, I very much look forward to playing In front of them all.
Cole Shudra’s warm up & away jerseys are now available on our Own and Loan Scheme which sees your name on the back of his jersey for the season. The match-worn jersey is then presented to its owner by the player at the end of the 2018-19 season, a unique memento of the player’s performances in the Elite League! For full details and to apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For an unusual but cost-effective way to promote your business, join the Lightning as Cole Shudra’s corporate sponsor. This package includes your business logo on the player’s jersey and announced at the start of every game he plays, as well as every time he scores a goal or assist during a match. Contact our Commercial Manager Sarah Jane Smyth for information by emailing email@example.com.