Joonas will put ‘Finnishing’ touch to Sheffield Steelers defence

Joonas Ronnberg
Joonas Ronnberg

Sheffield Steelers boss Paul Thompson will take a long hard look at his new-look team in the first day of pre-season camp and start to look at what combinations are likely to work over the next 80 games.

You don’t have to be a genius to work on some likely combos - Rob Dowd and Levi Nelson, Mathieu Roy, are well-established pairings, for example.

And perhaps the Arena defence will be similarly easy to predict.

Ben O’Connor and Davey Phillips were a good fit last season - and the coach is not one to fix something, if it ain’t broke.

Newcomer Joonas Rönnberg is a stay-at-home d-man, so he could neatly fit in with another new starter Mark Matheson, who likes to roam forward.

That leaves Steelers’ iron man Zack Fitzgerald with new boy Scott Aarssen - whom he is familiar with from their days at Braehead Clan.

Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson

On paper, it looks good. Thompson will see if it works on the ice.

Thompson has high hopes for Steelers’ tallest player, Rönnberg, who may end up being likened to Steve Munn or Dion Darling.

“He is a big physical presence who loves to step people from playing” said the coach.

He will block shots and stop people, he prefers that than sailing up the ice. He is a mean defenceman and a pretty big dude. Solid.

“Rönnberg has a lot of experience and will quietly go about his business.”

The 6ft 4ins Finn played for Storhamar in Norway last season, a team which benefitted from his stout rearguard duties.

“The league he has left behind is different from our own” said Thompson.

“Standards in the Elite League have been getting better, with more depth, but in some ways it’s more physical in Norway with the speed of players going into hits.

“I am sure we will see Joonas play with an edge.”