How Ben O’Connor can get even better for Sheffield Steelers

With 17 games of the season left, Christoffer Björklund upped hockey sticks and left Sheffield Steelers for Swedish side Mora IK.

He may have left early but he remained the top ‘plus-minus’ player for the rest of the Play Off winning campaign he was to be no part of.

But behind him in the number two spot was a defenceman even more exciting to watch - Briton Ben O’Connor.

There seems little O’Connor cannot do whenever the puck falls to his stick.

But at 28, how do you improve a player who seems to be at his peak?

“I think he is just coming into his own” said coach Paul Thompson.

Robert Dowd and Ben O'Connor celebrate their Play Off win

Robert Dowd and Ben O'Connor celebrate their Play Off win

“He is a fantastic talent, look what he has done so far in his career.

“He is 28 and he is pushing himself really hard, right now, to get to that next level of fitness.

“He wants the minutes, he wants the responsibility and will have the body that goes with that.”

Thompson said O’Connor and other Steeler Great Britain team members were Summer gym training at 7am even though they had been “pretty banged up” during the national side’s World Championship series in April.

O'Connor - improving as the League gets better

O'Connor - improving as the League gets better

“Ben is very focussed right now, as focused as I have ever seen him.”

So, can he get better?

“Absolutely he can” said the coach. “As the League gets better - the best players can grow with the League. You see so many people fall away, imports and British players but the best stay up there.

“There is more to come from Ben. I have seen his game become a lot more rounded over the last couple of years.

“His decision-making is way wiser and that comes with experience.

“He is a big asset for us.”

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