Exclusive: Emotional time for Sheffield Steelers player as love affair ends

Mike Ratchuk thanks his team-mates and fans after a memorale season
Mike Ratchuk thanks his team-mates and fans after a memorale season

Mike Ratchuk thinks he underperformed in his single year at Sheffield Steelers - and wants to show he is the best player in the League with his new club in the 2017-18 campaign.

The quicksilver defenceman signed for new Elite League outfit Guildford Flames after being released by the Play Off champions.

He is looking forward to the challenge of representing the new top level franchise, but admits he misses and loves Steelers’ team and its fan base.

Ratchuk missed the Play Offs with injury but iced 45 games in the regular programme, scoring eight goals and 13 assists.

His ability to turn defence into attack was inspiring to his team and electrifying for the fans.

In an exclusive interview with The Star, the 29-year-old American admitted he didn’t do everything he’d set out to do in his year at the House of Steel.

“As far as ambitions go, I think I sold myself, and the team, short this year; I didn’t play as well as I should have” he said.

But nonetheless the experience was one he’ll always remember with affection. “Playing in Sheffield helped me fall back in love with hockey” said Ratchuck, who previously played more than 150 games in the AHL.

“Every day I loved going to the rink, we had the greatest group in the room, great mix of personalities and cultures.

“There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t feel emotional about not coming back.

Mike Ratchuk: making a new start in Guildford

Mike Ratchuk: making a new start in Guildford

“Everyone in the front team office was great, especially Linda, who had a hug and a kiss every day for me. I’ll miss her very much. When it comes to the coaches, I won the lottery with Paul Thompson and Jerry Andersson. They are two unbelievable people to be around every day.

“They loved the good and bad parts of me, which I appreciate. As for the boys in the (dressing) room, I can’t thank them enough, the entire group, for always taking care of me and treating me so good. I love them all more than they know.”

Ratchuk also had a message for the Arena supporters: “To the fans, I cannot thank you enough for everything. You have shown me what loyalty and passion is really about. Thank you for always treating me like one of your own.

“I have signed to play in Guildford this season, and I could not be more excited. I love living in England, I love the people and everything about it, so it’s and chance to experience a new city.

“Coach Paul Dixon and I have had great conversations. Now my plan is to be the best player in the league, no question.”