The Trade-Mart Dundee Stars are delighted to announce the signing of British defenseman, Ben O’Connor on a two-year contract until the end of the 2025-2026 Elite League season.

 

The 35-year-old, blueliner joins the club from fellow EIHL outfit, Guildford Flames, where he has spent the past two years and last season, he contributed 41 points (9G, 32A) in 68 games.

O’Connor, who has won two Elite League Championships, one Playoff Championship and a Challenge Cup, reached the Challenge Cup Final and Playoff Semi-Finals this year with Guildford and was part of the Flames side that challenged for a league title in the 2022-2023 season, finishing second.

The Englishman, who also has dual-nationality with Canada, has represented Team GB on 94 occasions at the senior level but also five times at Under 20’s and four times for the Under 18’s.

The veteran defender is highly decorated with three gold medals, three silver medals and a bronze medal on the international stage and he is currently on international duty with Team GB for their warm-up games against Poland before this summer’s World Championships in Czechia.

Born in Durham, O’Connor made his professional debut back in 2003 with Hull Thunder in the British National League and played his first Elite League game in 2007 with Basingstoke Bison, before going on to have spells with Edinburgh Capitals, Coventry Blaze, Sheffield Steelers, Cardiff Devils and then the Flames.

Standing at 6-foot and 1-inch tall and weighing in at 198lbs, Ben has also had spells in the Canadian junior leagues, including the OHL, the French, Kazakhstan and Romanian top flights and the Swedish second-tier, Allsvenskan.

 

Credit: Derek Black.

 

LEFEBVRE ON O’CONNOR

After strengthening his blueline for not only next season but the year after, Stars Director of Hockey Operations and Head Coach, Marc LeFebvre, said: “This is a massive signing for our club and it is a message of intent of where we want to take things next season.

“Obviously, we want to improve our team defensively and especially on the powerplay as well, we did finish with the fourth best powerplay last season but we can always improve and get better.

“Adding Ben gives us two of the most offensive defensemen in the league now with him and Drydn, so we have a dual threat there now, offensively on the back end and I could not be more pleased.

“Especially with his experience that he can share onto our younger guys as well and to get an import-quality, British player who is on the national team too, those guys do not come around every day, so when I knew he was available I had to get on it.”

LeFebvre continued: “I think what we were missing a bit last year was that championship pedigree, we had a great group of guys but we just missed that element that Ben brings us, which is that championship winning experience.

“He is a good puck moving defenseman which is also something I thought we lacked last season, bringing the puck up the ice and out of our zone quicker, which is the way we want to play with speed and coming through the neutral zone.

“He brings a lot of quality on and off the ice and it is great to be reunited with him after I played with him in 2009 in Edinburgh, but we kept in contact over the years and I know him personally and what he can bring to our group, so it is going to be a pleasure working with him.”

 

Credit: Sheffield Steelers.

 

Discussing how the O’Connor has performed in recent seasons, the Canadian coach added: “He not only had a good season last year but the year before he was the best British player in the league and he won that award.

“So, even at his age he is still getting the job done back there and he is a threat every time he is on the ice, especially in the offensive zone as he is like a fourth forward out there.

“His numbers are still there, his foot-speed his still there, the puck movement is still there and he just brings so many elements to our club and like I said, it is a statement of intent of how we want to finish this year, as we do not want to finish down towards seventh place again, we want to look up the table and take things a step further again this year.

“Getting Ben for two years and not just one was a key to this and with me being here for at least another two years and also Drydn, we are really building something here and it is going to be something exciting to be a part of for everybody.”

 

Credit: Derek Black.

 

O’CONNOR ON MOVING NORTH TO TAYSIDE

After completing the deal to become a Star, O’Connor said: “I am very excited.

“I have known Marc for many years and I played with him in Edinburgh back in the day and we have always kept in touch.

“He is a great guy, who has a big passion for the game and wants to develop and get better to take Dundee to that next level.

“We have always been in touch and he has always been in my ear about coming to join him, so when we spoke this year about the opportunity and what he is trying to build in Dundee then I wanted to be a part of that.

“You can see what Marc is trying to build, with Dowsy buying in for another two-years, also myself, Marc and hopefully a few more guys because we are trying to build that culture to take the Dundee Stars to the next step.”

Ben has playing in the DIA for over 10 years as an opponent but is looking forward to calling it home now, and he added: “I cannot wait to get going, it will be nice to be on the home side instead of getting chirped on the away bench.

“It is the atmosphere in that rink, the fans are passionate and when that place is bouncing it is electric and it is a hard place for an away team to go and play.

“That buzz in the rink is pretty exciting, so roll on September when we can get some wins under the belt.”

 

Listen to full interview with Ben and Stars TV below!

 

O’CONNOR’S CAREER

Ben’s career began back in 2001 with Sheffield Rapiers in the English U16 league and by the following season, he had progressed to also play with the U19’s side, Sheffield Steelhawks and make his professional debut in the BNL with Hull Thunder.

After putting up 50 points in 16 games for the Rapiers in the 2002-2003 campaign and being recognised as an U13 and U15 All-Star, the young Brit then moved across the pond to play in Canada and spent the next four years learning the game in Ontario.

O’Connor would start with London Jr. Knights U16 AAA team and scored 77 points from 68 games and then stepped up to play for Bowmanville Eagles in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League, adding 21 more points, which earned him a spot on Team GB Under 18’s roster in the summer of 2005.

The next season saw Ben join the Ontario Hockey League and ice in 38 games for Windsor Spitfires after being selected 267th overall by them in the 2004 OHL Priority Selection Draft.

The defender would make 39 appearances for the Spitfires and also had another spell with the Eagles before moving to Mississauga IceDogs to finish the 2006-2007 season, where he then returned to the UK that summer.

Ben would make his EIHL debut that year with Basingstoke Bison and play 17 times before switching to Edinburgh Capitals mid-season, making 44 appearances and also earning his call-up to the GB Under 20’s, where he scored his first international goal.

Ahead of the 2008-2009 Elite League season, O’Connor moved to Coventry Blaze and spent a year in the West Midlands, before then making his senior debut for GB in the 2010 Olympic Game Qualifiers and then icing the World Championships and picking up a Bronze Medal.

 

Credit: Derek Black.

 

It was then in the 2009-2010 campaign that Ben returned to Scotland for another stint with the Capitals and that is where he met Marc LeFebvre and outscored his now-coach by 11 points as O’Connor posted seven goals and 21 assists to LeFebvre’s four goals and 13 assists.

Another GB call-up followed as the blueliner then moved abroad for the first time in his pro career, joining Morzine-Avoriaz in the French top-flight and once again was part of the national squad at the end of the 2010-2011 season, where GB won a Silver Medal.

In 2011, O’Connor then began a four-year spell in Kazakhstan as he joined Saryarka Karaganda for one year and then spent the next three with Arlan Kokshetau, where he totalled 167 points across 204 matches.

Ben would collect a heap of awards during his time in Kazakhstan as in his first year, he was named the league’s Best Defenseman as Saryarka won the Bronze Medal and then in his second season, he led the league in assists and points by a defender with 29 and 38.

In the 2013-2014 season, Arlan finished as runners-up in the league, whilst O’Connor was again voted as the league’s best blueliner and led the league in goals (17), assists (39) and points (56) by a defenseman, and also plus/minus with a +57 rating.

 

Credit: Cardiff Devils.

 

During the following campaign, the Durham-native returned to England and joined Sheffield Steelers, where he would stay for the next seven years and build a legacy, winning two Elite Leagues, one Challenge Cup and a Playoff Championship with the Yorkshire club.

O’Connor and the Steelers clinched the league title in his first season and he was also named as the British Player of the Year, Best British Defenseman and to the First All-Star Team that year.

In the 2015-2016 campaign, Ben was once again an Elite League champion, voted the Best British Defenseman and to the First All-Star Team, before finally winning a playoff title in 2016-2017.

He continued to gain experience on the European stage by icing in the Champions Hockey League and Continental Cup, then to start the 2018-2019 season, O’Connor found himself starting the year in Sweden with Leksands IF in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second division.

After 11 appearances for Leksands, he returned to Sheffield and would then add a Challenge Cup win to his list of honours in the 2019-2020 season, before COVID-19 shutdown the league early.

During the pandemic season, Ben stayed in Sheffield but played for their NIHL counterparts, the Sheffield Steeldogs and helped them to claim the NIHL Cup but after hockey fully resumed, the Englishman then began plying his trade in Wales as he joined Cardiff Devils but would switch to play in Romanian for half the season.

Icing with SC Csikszereda, O’Connor won both the Romanian League and Erste Liga titles and then came back to Britain to play his next two years in Surrey, as he suited up for Guildford Flames.

After helping the Flames to a second-place finish and being involved in a very tight title fight, Ben was again named British Player of the Year in the Elite League and over his two seasons in Guildford, he totalled 100 points in 136 games.

O’Connor has also been involved with Team GB for every season since 2013, as he helped the nation to claim two Gold Medals (2017-2018 & 2022-2023) and was named the Best Defender at the World Championships three times (2014-2017).

 

Credit: Colin Lawson.

 

In his 23-year-career so far, O’Connor has featured in 1292 matches, recorded 289 goals, 662 assists and collected 935 penalty minutes, while also playing in 92 playoff games, where he tallied 50 points (17G, 33A) and 80 penalty minutes.

O’Connor will wear the #83 jersey for the Stars this season.

Ben is our second signing of the summer and joins Drydn Dow on the roster for next season.

To see Ben’s career stats on Elite Prospects click HERE.

 

Banner image: Colin Lawson.

Featured image: Guildford Flames.

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Trade-Mart Dundee Stars Team
54 Games
22 Wins
25 Losses
7 OT Losses
51 Points