Young Sheffield Steelers’ signing Jordan Griffin has no shortage of role models to look up to at his new club
But the 16-year-old schoolboy, who has joined the club’s apprentice scheme, says swish blueliner Ben O’Connor is one of the players he admires most.
Griffin got the chance to skate with the Great Britain seniors’ defenceman in training drills last season.
Sadly, O’Connor is joining a club in the KHL, Russia, but his style has left a profound impression on him.
“He is so skilful, fast and has a good shot” says Griffin, who also regards himself as an offensive defenceman.
“You don’t get much better than Ben and I learned just by watching him.
“Also, I’ve spoken with him a few times and he’s explained where I should be and what to do, on the ice, it’s great advice.”
Griffin, who was born and lives in Crewe, Cheshire, says he would love to follow in the footsteps of Liam Kirk, who at 18 has found his way into the NHL draft, after evolving for Sheffield.
He is also looking forward to teaming up again with Kieran Brown, whom he played with for years at Bradford Bulldogs.
Infact, he has the Brown family to thank for his apprenticeship deal.
“Kieran’s Dad, Andy, got in touch with Paul (Thompson, coach) when Kieran started training and playing in Sheffield, he must have thought I was worth it.
“He did me a favour there!
“The experience of training with Steelers was good, it was a completely different level.
“It was so much faster to what I was used to.”
Griffin recognises the fact it is harder for a teenager to break into a senior team as a defenceman.
“If a forward makes a mistake there are defenders behind him - but if you do that in defence it’s going to be a goal against.
“I have played forward in my first year but naturally I think I am a defenceman.”
The GCSE student, who studies at Malbank school and sixth form college in Nantwich, collected more penalty minutes than any other member of the England U15 team (112) but says that’s not really a big part of his game.
“I think that was because of my size (6ft) in the younger age groups. If you hit someone smaller, it’s a penalty straight away.”
The skater is one of the few people who has not been surprised by the skill set and promise of his pal Kieran Brown.
“People have seen him for the first time and thought: ‘Wow.’
“But I’ve known him for years and seen his talent for a long time - some of the goals he scores are ridiculous!”
*The disappearance of Edinburgh Capitals from the EIHL may bring down the number of teams to 11, but there will be more games next season than last.
A League spokesman told The Star each club will play each other six times - 60 games in total. That’s four more than last season.