Shutdown giant Joonas Ronnberg snapped up by Sheffield Steelers

THE improving reputation of the Elite League helped Sheffield Steelers snap up Finnish defenceman Joonas Ronnberg for the 2017-18 season.

Joonas Ronnberg. Picture supplied by Sheffield Steelers.

Having already added Canadian blue liner Mark Matheson just under two weeks ago, Steelers’ head coach Paul Thompson has brought in further size and strength in the shape of 6ft 3ins Ronnberg.

As recently as 2014-15 the 34-year-old was playing in the Swedish Hockey League - regarded by many as Europe’s top domestic competition - and, in 2015-16 helped German DEL outfit Dusseldorfer EG reach the knockout stages of the Champions Hockey League.

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After just the one season in Germany, Ronnberg switched to Stormhamer in Norway before opting for his first taste of the UK domestic scene in South Yorkshire, having being convinced of its continued improvement by other players.

“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,” said Ronnberg.

“It’s a new chapter in my hockey life and one I can’t wait to start.”

The expectations on Ronnberg are quite simple, as far as Thompson, is concerned - stop the other team playing.

“We have a guy here who enjoys shutting down other top players,” said Thompson. “He plays with an edge and has done so at the very top level of European hockey.

Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Paul Thompson.

“In fact, the first thing Joonas 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.

“We needed to get bigger at the back and with Mark Matheson and Joonas joining us we have done just that

“I also was looking for some more experience back there and again both of the signings we have made to our D core bring that.”

Whereas Matheson is expected to contribute offensively as well as defensively, Ronnberg concurs with Thompson on where his own particular strengths lie.

Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Paul Thompson.

“I am a defensive minded defensemen - I like to stop other teams scoring,” he said. “That is 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.”

Ronnberg will make his Steelers debut against Swedish side Sodertalje on August 12 and 13 at ICE Sheffield. The following weekend the Steelers welcome top german DEL outfit Nurnberg Ice Tigers to Ice Sheffield.

A week later, the Steelers will move across the road for their first game of the campaignat Sheffield Arena when they take on Manchester Storm - before which they will raise the 2017 Championship play-off banner to the rafters.