Sheffield Steelers will be a fast, skilled, gritty side says veteran Jono
Steelers fans watching their new-look side at the Arena for the first time tomorrow should see a dynamic team determined to deliver success again, according to skipper Jonathan Phillips.
The veteran winger, in his testimonial season at the club, leads the team out against HV71, of Sweden, in the Champions Hockey League.
Sheffield have lost their first two CHL games so will be looking to record a win.
A week on Sunday, they launch their domestic campaign with a Challenge Cup game before starting the League programme in October.
“I think you’ll see an exciting, fast, skilled, gritty and determined team and with four solid lines, goalscoring should come from everywhere” said the 34-year-old GB stalwart, who has scored 12 goals for the club in the last two seasons.
“Who knows, it would be nice to score a few more, so I will definitely try” he said.
Phillips described winning a third-straight Elite League as “the ultimate goal,”
“It is something that has never been done. So any chance to be a part of history is pretty special and something the club is working very hard to achieve.”
The Welshman, who joined Steelers in 2006, agrees with team-mate Rob Dowd, who recently mourned the numbers of homegrown players at Elite Level.
“It’s hard for any British player now to be given a chance. When we were 18 we would have a regular spot on the second or third line.
“We need to find a happy medium on the imports to give kids the chance but also need to improve the development and make it more professional so they know what to expect from an early age and what it is going take to break through.”
As for his own future at the club, after this season, he said: “How long is a piece of string? Age is just a number.
“My body feels great. I feel in better shape now than I did when I first started with the Steelers.
“I still have years left in me and I still love to play so hopefully I will play until the Steelers don’t want me.”
* JP’s top career picks from the players he has skated alongside: Best all-round skater: Tyler Mosienko; Goal sniper: Mathieu Roy; Goaltender: Jody Lehman; Team Guy: Zack Fitzgerald, Best import: Colton Fretter; Best Brit: Ben O’Connor.
Friday 26th August
Kassel Huskies (Germany) 0 Nottingham Panthers 3
Saturday 27th August
Amiens (France) v Nottingham Panthers – 8.30pm
Belfast Giants v Braehead Clan – 7.00pm
Cardiff Devils v Tilburg Trappers (Netherlands) – 7.00pm
Fife Flyers v EC Peiting (Germany) – 7.15pm
Champions Hockey League
Sheffield Steelers v HV71 Jonkoping (Sweden) – 7.00pm
Sunday 28th August
Braehead Clan v Belfast Giants – 6.00pm
Coventry Blaze v Tilburg Trappers – 5.15pm
Fife Flyers v EC Peiting (Germany) – 6.30pm
UQTR (Canada) v Nottingham Panthers – 3-30pm
Monday 29th August
Coventry Blaze v Cardiff Devils – 4.00pm