Sheffield Steelers: back to domestic issues

Jonathan Phillips playing for GB
Jonathan Phillips playing for GB

GREAT BRITAIN and Sheffield Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips knows his Elite League team must summon up some Bulldog spirit of their own as they face three games in four nights, starting this evening.

Phillips was an outstanding competitor in GB’s failed attempt to secure passage to the Winter Olympics, at last weekend’s qualifiers in Latvia. He and his Steeler team mates have had little time to re-adjust before taking on Cardiff Devils, away, tonight.

Phillips said: “Whilst we are disappointed with the results in Latvia the standard of competition was very high. The key is to learn from it and move forward. GB has had two tough mid-season competitions in Japan and Latvia, we over-achieved according to our world ranking and we continue to progress.

“As for us Steelers we have to get right back on the bike starting with a tough game in Cardiff. The Devils are one of the reasons

we are a few points behind Nottingham, they have had success against us this year. They are tough to play in their home rink but the way we are playing right now is well suited to their building.

“In Cardiff, with their small pad, it’s a matter of lots of shots, go to the net, get traffic in front of their goalie. We crash the net as well as any team. If you look at the success we had away in Braehead four of our five were scored that way. The win against Nottingham put us back in the race, we know we pretty much have to win out from now on.

“Once we have taken on Cardiff it’s Fife Flyers and Hull Stingrays at home. After Latvia and Cardiff it will be nice to play at the Arena.”

Steelers will rely on a rejuvenated goalie John DeCaro, who has had some well-earned rest during the domestic shut-down.

Team-mate Steve Goertzen said: “Johnny was great in our last game (the 5-2 win over Nottingham.) When he did get shots, he was really square, his rebound control was great and I thought our ‘D’ were battling hard in the corners.

“They seem to have been better supporting each other in last few games.”

Chris Frank added: “The goalie has to be best player out there every time, Johnny is stellar for us, he gives us a chance to win, leads by example, it is nice to have him on the back end.”

n GB coach Tony Hand says the team deserves “great praise after the Olympic qualifying campaign.”

“We had three tough games against some brilliant sides, but we often matched these sides. It has given a foundation for this year’s World Championship in Hungary. We should be proud of what we have done. But we have to look at ways of improving the team ahead of Budapest.”