Defenceman Ronnberg answers SOS call to help Sheffield Steelers

WHAT is it about Sheffield Steelers and defencemen?

FAMILIAR FACE: Joonas Ronnberg will be back in the Sheffield Steelers line-up this weekend. Picture: Dean Woolley.

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Last month, Finnish man-mountain Joonas Ronnberg informed head coach Paul Thompson he was returning home to be with his family, but was then quickly back in the line-up within 10 days to help them qualify for the third and final round of the Continental Cup.

Now, the 34-year-old is back with his former team-mates once again after offering to help them through a defensive crisis brought on by a nasty facial injury to Zack Fitzgerald.

Ronnberg will be back in the UK in time to play for the Steelers this weekend against arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers, much to Thompson’s obvious delight.

“I called Ronnie to ask him for a reference on a player we thought might be available,” said Thompson. ”The big man keeps up to date with all the Steelers news and understood the situation we are in. The first thing he did was ask me about Zack Fitzgerald’s injury. I told him it wasn’t good and we would be without Fitzy for a while.

“He then asked me if I was going to ask him to come back and play this weekend – I replied ‘Yes I am.’

NUMBERS BOOST: Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Paul Thompson, with the axed Andre Deveaux on the right. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“An hour later I had the call that he had rescheduled his plans for the weekend. We were looking for a flight for him for Friday yet he said he had found one for Thursday as he wanted to skate with the team on Friday.

“What a team player he is – we cant thank him enough for his commitment to the club.”

Thompson, who yesterday jettisoned misfiring forward Andrew Deveaux, said he was still trying to come up with a longer-term solution to his defensive shortage, with ever-improving teenager Cole Shudra expected to see plenty of ice time during Wednesday night’s trip to Dundee Stars.

“We have been close several times to signing a guy, only for a club not to want to release a guy or a better deal coming up elsewhere,” he added. “The search will continue until we find the right man.”

NUMBERS BOOST: Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Paul Thompson, with the axed Andre Deveaux on the right. Picture: Dean Woolley.