British bulldogs get new world level status
As the dust settles on the 2021 IIHF world championships, the Great Britain team - bolstered in no small part by eight Sheffield-relevant skaters - can look upon their achievements with even more satisfaction than previously thought.
And one of those eight, Ben O'Connor, is confident the future of British hockey is in very good hands, too.
The tournament in Latvia ended on Sunday night, with Canada claiming its 27th world hockey title, beating Finland 3-2, in overtime.
According to veteran writer and scout Bernd Freimueller the overall, new order sees GB rise four places in the global pecking order to 15th.
Sheffield Steeldog O'Connor believes the new crop of Brits suggest even better things are to come.
"As a team collectively it was unbelievable how we played," he said.
"Look at Josh Tetlow (aged 23; Nottingham Panthers) and David Clements (26, Coventry Blaze.) It was their first year on the team and how well they played!
"Getting thrown in at the deep end in Pool A... and they were fantastic all tournament.
"Liam Kirk ( 21, Sheffield Steelers, NHL draft pick for Arizona Coyotes) speaks for himself. I am so proud of him, and what he achieved.
"I don't want to see him anywhere near here next season - he will go on and do great things.
"There will be a lot of conversations for him with many teams and I wish him the best of luck."
O'Connor, himself, didn't have much game time in the immediate run-up to the world championships - but felt that might have been in his favour.
"I had been working hard off the ice, doing everything necessary to keep myself in the best possible shape.
"The guys were pretty tired at the end of it so with me being fresh and not being on the ice so much we sort of met in the middle!
"The tournament shows how much progress has been made.
"If you look two years ago when it was really difficult in every game, we weren't close in many games.
"This year we took Denmark to overtime and won against Belarus it was fun to be there and be competitive.
"We had to make teams work and that's all you want."
O'Connor said they were disappointed in the way they went out, a 6-3 loss to Switzerland, but added: "Overall we can be happy with our performances."
People in the hockey world in north America and Europe had taken note of how well we played, he said.
"I loved every minute of it, I had 14 months sitting at a laptop so to get away and play against one of the best players in the world was unbelievable."
Steelers have launched an online raffle for a Marek Troncinsky signed, tribute frame.
All proceeds will be donated to Marek’s family to support his six year old daughter Adrianka.
The link to buy is : https://raffall.com/240199/enter-raffle-to-win-marek-troncinsky-8-frame-hosted-by-sheffield-steelers
In the first day Steelers fans bought £4,500 in tickets – the final draw is scheduled at 9pm on Friday.