Video: Ben O’Connor happy with his GB mates – both in Sheffield and Slovakia – and the choice of the new club coach

The British contingent at Sheffield Steelers are a tight-knit bunch - and this month's World Championship series will doubtless bring the group even closer together.

By Bob Westerdale
Sunday, 05 May, 2019, 23:00

Most of the import players were full of praise for the home-grown players last season...one of few upbeat factors in an otherwise disappointing, trophy-free campaign.

Ben O'Connor will be as crucial to GB's form in Slovakia, when the action starts next weekend, as he will be for Sheffield, for the 2019-20 domestic campaign.

And he's more than pleased that GB skaters Robert Dowd, Jonathan Phillips and Davey Phillips, will be with him in both sets of competitions.

Asked how valuable it was to see the GB fforwards and defenceman re-signed and back in Sheffield under new coach Aaron Fox, O'Connor said: "If you look at the Steelers in years-past, having a core group of guys together that knows the ethos and the mentality and what it takes to win in Sheffield, I think it's very important.

"To have some many Brit guys back is very important."

But will that ethos come back to the House of Steel?

Ben O'Connor

"It has to. The ownership and the new coach won't accept anything else” said O’Connor.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

"That's the way I want it. That's the way I am sure the rest of the boys want it and the (import) guys returning.

"We are Sheffield. Last season wasn't acceptable. We know that - it was very frustrating.

"But we have got to put that behind us and we've got to move forward and get back to winning ways."

O'Connor hasn't met Fox yet.

But he says: "What I have heard through guys, and Jonno (Phillips) has spoken to him, and Army (John Armstrong) knows him from Zagreb, he's a players' coach, he's very smart, he lets you play and he wants you jumping in the rush, he wants you to be creative.

"At the same time we have got to look after our own zone. I think that will be fun.

"I definitely like the sound of that.

"He has got a big job, it's a big club, and I know Tony (Smith; owner) expects a lot, as we do as players so I am excited to start working with him and have heard nothing but good things so I am looking forward to getting going."