St. Louis Jr. Blues defenseman Paul O'Connor has signed a tender to play for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL. O'Connor traveled to Cedar Rapids to skate with the team for two days a couple of weeks ago and signed the tender upon returning home.
In a team release:
Cedar Rapids, IA – The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL announced the signing of Paul O'Connor and Chris Birdsall to tenders adding the defenseman and goalie to the RoughRiders 2012-13 roster.
O'Connor is an O'Fallon, MO native who spent the 2011-12 season as a member of the St. Louis Jr. Blues of the NA3PHL.
"The RoughRiders organization welcomes Paul. We believe he will be a very good addition to our team both on or off the ice. We have been just as impressed with his character as we were with his play on the ice," said RoughRider Head Coach and General Manager Mark Carlson.
O'Connor joined the Jr. Blues after their main camp. Said J.P. Beilsten, "We had a couple of spots open so we invited Paulie out to skate. Our original intent was to have him play with the Affton U18 CSDHL team and skate with us. Because of some roster and injury issues, we put him in some games early and saw that he could play at this level now, so we signed him and kept him."
As the season went on, Beilsten found it harder and harder to take him out of the line-up. He continued, "It got to the point that he was one of our most consistent and poised players on the blue line. He had to play. By the end of the season, we matched him with our opponents top line, along with Joe Bowler. In the end, in the playoffs, he was one of our top producers too."
O'Connor brings a quiet confidence and competitiveness necessary to compete and win. "He wants to play, he wants to win, he wants to get better," says Beilsten. "He received the summer workout packet and started working immediately. He knows that he needs to get stronger, and I have no doubt that he will."