Sheffield Steelers coach Gerad Adams feels he has the two most exciting defencemen in British ice hockey.
He says former NHL New York Islanders player Dustin Kohn has been an on-ice role model for teammate Ben O’Connor, who puts in better performances when he is paired with him.
Kohn, aged 27, has missed seven games through injury. But his display on his return, last Friday in the 4-1 in over Cardiff Devils, was a morale-booster for Adams and his skaters.
He picked up a point in that game and in Sunday’s 4-2 win at Coventry Blaze, which saw Steelers go back on top of the division.
He said: “Kohn is one of the better defenders in our league, his skating ability, the way he can read the game ... and I think Ben O’Connor had a better game due to the fact he played with Dustin. And people who want exciting hockey ... it doesn’t get more exciting than those two guys flying around.”
Kohn is an intelligent, thoughtful player offensively, while O’Connor loves getting forward himself, showcasing his skating and stick-handling skills that lit up the Kazakhstan league for a couple of years.
Latest forward signing Danny Bois has also impressed Adams, who said: “He gets involved, takes face-offs for us and works extremely hard.”
Asked the reasoning behind playing Bois on the third line, he replied: “It is just a role I have spoken to him about right now, just to slowly integrate him into the team that way and get him some ice time.
He wants the forward to avoid any pressure and to “be himself, play hard, be in a ‘plus’ every night”.
He added: “I think that is what he’ll do. Once he gets his feet under him then we can look to evolve his game.”