Dave Simms column: We have the League’s best Brits

Ben O'Connor - a priceless gem for Sheffield Steelers
Ben O'Connor - a priceless gem for Sheffield Steelers
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Robert Dowd, a super talent. We know him as The Golden Child. Dynamic since he burst on to the scene some years ago.

Liam Kirk, the new 16-year-old superstar, just breaking into the Steelers’ side. Nicknamed by his team mates as the The Golden Embryo.

But, if Dowdy and Kirky are golden, then what name would we have for Ben O’Connor, surely now the best British player in the country?

Benny’s time away in Kazakhstan certainly helped make him the player we see today.

Yet, because of our memories of him as a kid running around the Arena, as the son of Big Mike who we are all so familiar with, I think we have done him a disservice. We’ve taken Ben for granted. Before us is a stunningly talented player.

I sat at the laptop looking at a blank screen before writing this article, wondering what to type. Names flow through your head, another article on Mathieu Roy maybe. I’m as bad as the next man. I keep overlooking the genuine superstar on our team. This is the bloke who can turn a game, do something no one else can do.

Rob Dowd

Rob Dowd

I’ve often described Benny as gypsy. Born in Durham, brought up in Sheffield. Then spent his latter teenage years in America, came back to Coventry and Edinburgh, moved to France and then to Kazakhstan. The boy has some miles on his car!

Ben isn’t afraid to pack a bag and try something new. I hope he makes a long term home here in Sheffield. I hope both he and Dowdy are the next two players we celebrate testimonials for in years to come. They are both special talents. Lone British wolves in an import-dominated sport.

Walk into the dressing room and Benny is a loud and vociferous part of it. See him interact with fans post-game, sponsors when his old man needs a special favour. Benny has become not only a great player but an even better human being.

If the Steelers are to remain a winning team then they need to appreciate the special talents. The strength of the Steelers over the past decade was the great core that Phillips, Thomas and Hewitt gave us. The baton has been past on. Jonathan Phillips remains but the importance of Benny and Dowdy with young Master Luke (Ferrara) and the on-coming Kirk and Cole Shudra can’t be underestimated. Ben and Robert are our boys and I want to see the pair of them here remain here and be dominant forces for our club, captain our club and lead us. T

On the ice, we have four Games against Cardiff in the league and four defeats. Are the Devils are the best team in the country? No way. Don’t get me wrong the Devils have our number right now. But the Steelers have played some breath-taking hockey in their last two games against Cardiff. What this Steelers side has to do though is convert this exciting, fast and exhilarating style into victories against the big sides.

I know the characters inside the dressing room better than most. My verdict is that they will. We are a third of a way through this campaign. There is a long time left, a lot of hockey to play. This Steelers side is playing a brand of hockey not seen over here before. Speed and transition that other clubs can’t live with. Every week the work in practise gets the team better, faster, stronger and that’s why I’m so confident that this team will delivers.