Simmsey column: Ronnberg's return is a massive boost
Well that was a surprise wasn't it? The return of Joonas Ronnberg (again).
It happened quickly, the calls between Joonas and coach Paul Thompson, the owner’s approval and the flight was booked, all inside a few hours.
It’s a massive boost for the Steelers to have the big man return. The pressure put on the Steelers D in recent weeks playing back-to-back games with five defencemen has been a strain. Having a spare that comes in to the line-up when injuries and suspensions take place will give the team a massive boost with all the games coming up.
When Ronnberg left the team he led the team in plus/minuses. A brick wall and a great penalty killer. We are a better team with him returning.
Ronnberg will be in the line up on Saturday in Milton Keynes and then at home on Sunday when the team plays Belfast Giants. Andreas Jamtin returns from his three game suspension (picked up against Giants three weeks ago) for this game as well.
Steelers are on course to play an 84 game schedule, if they do it’s likely they will use 28 players or less. NHL teams will play 80 games using a squad of close to 40 – that shows the strains these players go through, having Ronnberg back in the line-up isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. The relationship Joonas, Thompson and owner Tony Smith have built up this real was crucial in the big guy’s return. The club was understanding to Ronnberg and his family’s needs earlier in the year. Ronnbgerg appreciated this and in turn made himself available for the Continental Cup semi final and an important Elite League weekend when the team was short.
Now both sides are ready to commit again until the end of the year. The dressing room will be happy, Joonas is a huge personality and mega popular with his team mates.
The return of Jamtin is equally important on Sunday. Here is a competitor, a winner and yes, a nasty piece of work when needed to be – a Swede with attitude.
Jamtin has that battle hard edge, his compete levels are off the charts and he has been missed. Every day of his professional life he has been fighting to be the best. A career in the SHL, KHL and with the senior men’s national Swedish side.
Huge congratulations to Cole Shudra on his hat-rick in Edinburgh. All the talk in the week was about his fellow team mate Liam Kirk and his chances of being drafted. Young Cole in a typical Shudra manner, stole the script and wrote his own being the hero of the hour in the Steelers’ 7-1 victory in Scotland.
The battle ahead is obscene. Eight games in the next 16 days. Cup semi finals, important league fixtures against the toughest of rivals. Having the likes of Kirk and Shudra coming of age is vital in the run-in, the return of Ronnberg gives the team the depth needed for a charge at the trophies on offer.
Steelers return to iceSheffield next Wednesday for the first leg of the Cup semi final against Cardiff Devils. Our form there has been good this season. This will be the biggest test of all though.
Zack Fitzgerald will also be available for selection after serving his lengthy ban (5 games). Bodies are tired, fatigued right now, a strength in numbers is key. Paul Thompson’s management of the team crucial, who sits out, who plays – what a run in we have.
See you at the Arena on Sunday and at ICE Sheffield on Wednesday for the big cup game.