Dad and son will roll back the clock in Sheffield Steelers fanfare

Ben O'Connor and  wife Tess
Ben O'Connor and wife Tess

Ben O’Connor was a starry-eyed youngster when he first heard of the concept of ‘raising the banner’ at an ice hockey game.

That’s because his dad was a successful player who won championships with Sheffield Steelers.

Now Ben is looking forward to the same feeling of pride as he awaits Saturday’s ceremony at Sheffield Arena, celebrating last season’s Play Off final win.

Ben’s Dad Mike was a defenceman - in the same way Cole Shudra’s dad Ron was, in the Steelers side of yesteryear.

Both will feel a family link when the flag is hoisted into the rafters.

O’Connor Jr said: “The banners mark the club’s history and in Sheffield that’s a very successful history. You see those you watched as a kid and then those you helped win with your team mates.

“I get a nice feeling from that. I remember the old man winning and being excited being around him, at those times.

“He is proud of the championships he helped win and those banners remind him of great times.

“It’s the same with me. I’ve been very lucky. Since returning to the club we have won something every year.

“The same for Rob Dowd he hasn’t played a season here without winning something, that’s a great record.

Mike O'Connor

Mike O'Connor

“Last year’s play off success was epic. The way we clawed our way back from 4-0 down in Nottingham.

“The emotion of that second leg in Sheffield, going 4-0 up and then Nottingham coming back with eight seconds left – the highs, the lows and then the incredible feeling when Guillaume Desbiens scored the overtime winner.

“Then the finals weekend, down again 3-1 to Cardiff and coming back to win it in the longest ever game in Elite League history, five periods.

“Again the emotion when Levi scored the winner. You never forget moments like that.

“Saturday’s banner will be a permanent reminder of those times. For players and fans as well.

“I think back to the final game in Nottingham. The way our fans out-sung, out-cheered fans from all the other teams was incredible. Every time we had a face off near them there was a standing ovation.

“You get goose bumps just thinking about it.”

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