Dave Simms’ Sheffield Steelers’ column: Skipper Jonathan Phillips cool off the rink... ice cool on it

Jonathan Phillips
Jonathan Phillips

When you sit and talk quietly to Jonathan Phillips, you realise that he is a man that is used to winning, used to lifting trophies.

The Steelers captain can laugh, joke and prank with the best of them. But when it comes to the business of the Steelers winning, Jonno is all about the business.

“There are times in the season that you know are just of paramount importance,” he told me, as the two of us shared a few words inside a quiet and empty dressing room following the 3-2 victory over Nottingham last Saturday.

“That win against Nottingham was one of those. It was a moment where we had to put our foot down; win at all cost, send a message.

“And we did just that.”

Phillips’ experience will be of pivotal importance if the Steelers are to continue this winning run, and challenge for another Elite League title this season.

“I think experience is key for us,” he continued.

“We have been here before. We know not to get carried away with a victory and we also know not to panic if defeat comes our way.

“We have learned that from previous campaigns. It’s important to enjoy the victories and we will do that tonight.”

Phillips was speaking ahead of the trip the following evening to Fife - and the Steelers went on to win that game as well.

A 4-1 road win meant that Phillips’ team had swept Fife four games straight - something hugely important if they are to lift another championship trophy.

“I think there is a maturity about this team,” he added.

“We have some veteran British players but the new imports have all won before.

“Mathieu Roy was a captain for three years in Florida, he led his side to a championship.

“We know that outside the room there is a out of talk about a championship. Inside, though, there isn’t any.

“It’s far too early to talk about that. Just because we don’t talk about it doesn’t mean we don’t think about it at times, though.

“But that experience we have means we know how to prepare, ensure that we are ready for every game”

The Steelers side this year has only played one game at full strength, but Phillips’ Sheffield side sits jointly at the top of the EIHL. “I think that shows some character, don’t you?” said Phillips.

“It shows that the guys here are prepared to work harder, cover for team mates, do whatever they have to do to win.

“Sure, we have had some slip ups but inside these four walls we have all answered the questions and rebounded well. Our form right now is excellent.”

The Steelers have to continue that fine run of form tomorrow [Friday] against Phillips’ former club, Cardiff - another team that has found the winning habit.

“Us and Cardiff are maybe the two in form teams in the league,” Phillips said.

“December was always going to be a tough month, what with two home games against Nottingham plus Cardiff and Hull at the Arena and trips to Fife and Nottingham.

“December is always a month of paramount importance. This team is a close knit side, we will eat turkey and have a beer together this December but we will also go into the trenches together, realise the importance of the job in hand and look to come out of this month still challenging

“That’s the pressure of playing for a winning side, a club that is used to winning. Some crumble under that pressure and some embrace it.

“I don’t think there is a player here who doesn’t embrace it.

“In fact, we all love it.”