Ben O’Connor - who hinted he’d return to Steelers minutes after helping his side win the Play Off final - has confirmed that intention, by signing a fresh deal.
O’Connor gave Star readers a barely-disguised indication that he’d be back for a fourth season after his side beat Cardiff Devils. Now he has put his name on a two-year contract.
O’Connor said: “The experience of the play offs brought it home to me how good it is here and how I want more of the same with the great group of team mates. The Elite League is getting better and so are the Steelers on and off the ice. I’m thrilled I’ve been a part of our recent success and want to be a big part of the success we have moving forward. There is no better feeling than knowing we are settled here long term.”
Sheffield coach Paul Thompson will have to make changes to his blue line, with Rod Sarich and Anders Franzon departed and Jace Coyle deemed likely to follow suit.
But O’Connor’s decision was a boost. “Benny’s all-round game has really improved” said Thompson. He wants more responsibility and has worked incredibly hard to achieve that. He is one of the top all round defencemen in the League and we are thrilled he’ll be with us for at least two more years. He is one of the key signings we had to make, a real part of our leadership group. He stays behind on the ice pushing himself and when people like him do that it pushes those around him.”