Sheffield Steelers’ Ben O’Connor may be tempted overseas

Ben O'Connor - suave, offensive d-man

Ben O'Connor - suave, offensive d-man

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Ben O’Connor is widely regarded as the best British talent playing ice hockey in his home country.

Which means that as his three year deal with Sheffield draws to a close at the end of the season, big budget sides will be in the market for him.

Ben O'Connor at Nottingham

Ben O'Connor at Nottingham

And a return to hockey on the European stage intrigues the ambitious defenceman, who has played in France and Kazakhstan.

Right now, O’Connor is focusing solely on his Steelers season, saying he had no idea where he would be next year.

“Ask any hockey player and they’d tell you they want to play in the highest league possible” he said.

“I would love to go away again and ply my trade in Europe if there was a willing combatant (team) that wanted me.

Ben O'Connor - might move on

Ben O'Connor - might move on

“It is just a case of seeing what happens, I will see what happens and speak to Sheffield and go from there. I won’t be making any rush decisions.”

O’Connor has ruled out any move across the Atlantic, saying he thought his style was more suited to the European game.

There would be no shortage of advice on potential Swedish employers, given the number of Swedes on Steelers’ pay roll.

Meanwhile, O’Connor says the pressure on Steelers to catch up with the current league leaders Cardiff Devils is not a new phenomenon.

“There is always pressure playing at Sheffield” he said. “Everybody expects you to win every game and that is something we take upon ourselves.

“But we have won back-to-back championships and been in the position before where people have written us off.

“If we needed to win at Nottingham, at home to Cardiff or away at Fife, last season, we did it,

“We always come strong down the final stretch.”

O’Connor said Cardiff (who Steelers play tonight) are a “very good team with good depth - but so are we.”

Five things about Ben O’Connor, He:

*Started off at Sheffield Lazers and Rapiers (U14 and U16) playing alongside Stephen Fone, James Archer, Matt Towe, Greg Wood, Ben Morgan and Oliver Barron.

*Says Mathieu Roy is the best he’s played alongside.

*Says the best he’s played against was Anže Kopitar, now with Los Angeles Kings, but then in the Slovenian U18 side.

*Believes GB will soon be grouped amongst ice hockey powers like Ukraine, Poland and Kazakhstan.

*Speaks Russian wiith a Durham accent.