Finn shores up Sheffield Steelers defence

Joonas Ronnberg, new Finnish d-man
Joonas Ronnberg, new Finnish d-man

Steelers are close to ‘Finnishing’ off the recruitment of their defensive line-up for next season.

Coach Paul Thompson has signed Joonas Rönnberg - who will become one of very few number of Finns to have donned the Sheffield shirt.

Ronnberg, 34, follows in the skating footsteps of the likes of Timo Willman (2002-03) and Ilpo Salmivirta, who made a cameo appearance in 2013-14.

Thompson had wanted a bigger d-corps than last year and 6ft 3ins Ronnberg fits that criteria. He arrives on a one year deal after a single season at Storhamer in Norway.

The coach has only d-man left to sign - it will be a question over whether he offers Jace Coyle a new deal or finds a new body.

In common with recent signings, Ronnberg brings experience. He has played in his home country as well as Sweden and the German DEL.

Thompson said: “We needed to get bigger at the back and with Mark Matheson and Joonas joining us we have done that. I also was looking for some more experience back there.

“Joonas is big and strong and loves to stop people from playing. In fact the first thing he said to me was: ‘I’m not the man to run your power play’ which was good as I have guys who can do that.

“He enjoys shutting down other top players. He plays with an edge and has done so at the very top level of European hockey.

“He made a massive difference to the Storhamer side last year when he joined an eighth place team, he led them to third in the standings.”

Ronnberg said: “I am a defensive-minded defencemen. I like to stop other teams scoring, that’s my job and that’s what I have done wherever I have played.

“I can make a good first pass but my main object is to break up plays, defend, block shots and box out.”

The Finn added: “The Elite League is being talked about a lot more and I know many players who have experienced England and spoke well of their time there.”

Ronnberg makes his Steelers debut in less than 10 weeks as the Steelers start four weekends of exhibition play starting with Swedish side Sodertalje on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th August at iceSheffield.