VIDEO: Benny's back, Chris is out for Sheffield Steelers '“ and there are more new players on the way, hints coach Tom Barrasso

It's not very often that 6,000 fans know more about one of their team's players than the coach does.

Sunday, 28th October 2018, 10:33 am
Updated Sunday, 28th October 2018, 10:38 am
Ben O'Connor, man of the match

But that was the strange yet oddly wonderful situation at Sheffield Steelers on Saturday night.

Ben O'Connor returned to the club and the fans that adore him - meeting up with a new coach in Tom Barrasso who hadn't seen a fraction of him, in comparison.

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Had Barrasso needed any references, the orange army in the stands would have been happy to provide one. In the end, O'Connor did the talking for himself, fitting in as though he had never taken an 11-game excursion in Sweden, and assisting on a dramatic overtime game-winning goal against Nottingham Panthers.

As usual, nothing is straight-forward at Steelers.

On the day O'Connor returned, Barrasso stunned the media by confirming rumours that Chris Lawrence had been axed. On the ice, Steelers stuttered near goal for 56 minutes before finding a way past goalie Mike Garnett.

Mark Matheson's shot, screened by Jordan Owens, canceled out Luke Pither's third-minute strike for Panthers.

Ben O'Connor, man of the match

And 30 seconds into overtime, O'Connor and Stefan Della Rovere combined to give Josh Pitt the chance to win the match, which he took expertly.

While Barrasso has achieved much, much more in his career, this come-from-behind win was his biggest accomplishment so far as a Steeler coach.

And he won't be sitting on his laurels, with more ins-and-outs on the way. Asked by The Star about recruitment, he said: "We've re-evaluated, I've had a chance to see most of the players, we are back to health which is good. I've had an opportunity to talk to Tony (Smith; owner) about the direction we might need to go.

"I'd like to see us get a little faster than we are at the moment, I think we have got a lot of players of similar speed, and a player or two with the additional speed I think would compliment the skill that we have."

Chris Lawrence, his services no longer required

On O'Connor, he chimed: "I'd heard a lot about Ben before, when I first got here speaking with Mike  (his father) and all the players, they are very fond of Ben.

"To have the opportunity to bring a player like that back into your line up is a big bonus for us.

"He is a very dynamic player, a skilled player... a fast player."

Barrasso wants "one or two" more quicker skaters.

Which is why Lawrence was guillotined.

"Chris has been released because we are trying to get younger and faster that's not something that necessarily he fits."