Sheffield Steelers captain hits 900 games

Sheffield Steelers captain hits 900 games

23 Feb 2018Robert Newbolt»
 

Landmark game for Steelers captain this Saturday.

 
 
 
 

Sheffield Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips says last year’s play-off final is a highlight of his Elite League career as he prepares to reach 900 appearances in all competitions.

The 35-year-old will be the first ever player to hit that particular milestone in Elite League history on Saturday when his Steelers team take on Belfast Giants.

And while he looked back on that epic final, he admits he doesn’t remember making his debut when the Elite League began in 2003 (a 3-5 defeat to Coventry Blaze in September 2006).

“I can’t remember my first Elite League game, but I can remember my first game in the old Super League when I started out with Cardiff Devils,” he said.

“I never would have guessed I’m close to the 900-mark in Elite League games and I’m quite surprised to have got there.

“You kind of forget how old you are sometimes and throughout that, there have definitely been more highs and lows and I can look back at it with nothing but pride.

“Looking back at my time in the EIHL, last year’s play-off final was a particular highlight.  It was one of the crazier trophies we won in how we did it and the way the game panned out.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster and we had to overcome Nottingham, Belfast then Cardiff to go on and win it.

“We were 3-1 down to Cardiff and the game went on and on into a second overtime period before Levi (Nelson) came up with the big goal to win it for us.

"I think the most memorable goal that will stick with me forever to be is the one in the play offs against Nottingham last year. As soon as i got on the breakaway i knew the importance of scoring especially as we had a 5 min penalty to kill against a great power play. I think you could see what it meant in my celebration, it was just raw emotion."

Although Phillips made his bow in the 1999-2000 season with the Devils in the Super League days, he’s been a mainstay for both the Devils and the Steelers in the EIHL’s 15-year existence.

He spoke of the differences he’s experienced in the early days compared to now and is already contemplating reaching 1,000 appearances.

He added: “There’s definitely been a change in the Elite League from when I started out, certainly in the last two or three years in particular.

“More teams are playing four lines now and the standard of imports are better, as is the standard of the British guys.

“The league is getting recognition when you hear that Liam Kirk might possibly be drafted into the NHL from this league, it’s huge.

“Look at how Cardiff and Nottingham did in the Champions Hockey League as well, they went toe to toe with some good teams in their campaigns.

“For me, it would be nice to get to the 1,000 mark for sure.  I’ve no thoughts of retiring yet so if all goes well, we’ll see what the future holds I guess.”

He already holds the record for appearances with the Sheffield Steelers with 744 games. 

His Elite league record, broken down stands at 724 for Steelers and 175 for Cardiff.

Credit for a big part of this piece goes to Craig Anderson of the EIHL media.

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