1000 games for one club!

1000 games for one club!

10 Dec 2022 | Robert Newbolt

Daniel Alfredsson did it for Ottawa Senators (NHL) now Jonathan Phillips has done it for Sheffield Steelers (EIHL).


He reached 1000 EIHL games a few seasons ago and now Jonathan Phillips the long serving British international reaches the milestone of 1000 games for one club.

The Sheffield Steelers captain made his debut in 2006, when he moved from Cardiff Devils and has since become the most honoured captain in Sheffields history.

He spoke to me recently about his thoughts on reaching this great moment and took the time to answer a few questions.

Why did you not want to play elsewhere after leaving Cardiff and joining Sheffield?

Sheffield were starting a rebuild when I first joined from Cardiff and that was something I really wanted to be a part of. It is a great culture that we have created in the dressing room and Sheffield are the biggest club in the country so it never crossed my mind to move on.

How do you think that hockey on and off ice has changed since you began playing?

On the ice it has obviously become a lot more about skill, skating and speed. When I first signed as a professional it was a lot of big guys clutching and grabbing, now with the rule changes you can’t get away with that and the game is based around speed.

Off the ice has become a lot more professional as sport science has evolved. Most teams have a strength & conditioning coach and we have been lucky to have Mike and Danny Mawer training us 52 weeks of the year. This is something I would’ve loved to have had available to me when I was younger.

Who is best player you have played with?

I would have to say Jeff Legue! He might not have had the biggest resume but I don’t think there has been anyone who was so clutch in big moments throughout his time in Sheffield.

Who is/was strongest opponent do you think?

There are a lot of great teams around the league over the years such as Coventry Blaze when they had Calder/Carlsson/Lehman they were always so consistent. In recent years I would have to say Cardiff Devils under Andrew Lord. They were relentless every night and would come at you wave after wave.

Which is your least favourite rink, can be Eihl or others?

I have got to say Manchester (Manchester Storm). Always so cold and the dressing room is always damp and freezing.

What is you most memorable moment?

There have been lots of unbelievable moments during my time here but winning the playoffs in 2008 against Coventry. This was the first major trophy I was a part of and I scored the GWG.  As a child we always went to Wembley to watch the playoffs and it was a dream come true to lift the trophy.

Which is the honour that gave you most pleasure in achieving amongst the many that you lifted in Sheffield?

Having a testimonial here was obviously a huge honour! To play for 10+ years at a club like Sheffield is something I am very proud of, plus it was great to have my kids play alongside me and share that moment with them is something I will never forget.

1000 games for one club is a rare achievement outside the NHL where they play more games, any thoughts to pass on to new players?

I’ve played for so long because I love it! You have to enjoy coming to the rink everyday and look forward to embracing all challenges you may face and pushing your body to the limit. I feel privileged to be able to play for so long and it doesn’t last forever so work hard and enjoy it.

Which is your favourite EIHL team to play against and why?

I still think the Steelers – Panthers games are special! Both buildings are always packed full and the atmosphere in those games is crazy.

Which player do you most admire, past or present?

I have to say Liam Kirk. Everything he has done has been his own hard work and dedication. After a tough year through Covid, Kirky finished as the top Goal scorer at the world Championships which then earned him a NHL contract. His attitude, mental strength and skill are off the charts.

During your time with the Great Britain side there must have been many fun times, care to share any?

Playing for Team GB over the years has given us so many great memories on and off the ice.  One fun time we had was last year after the tournament was over we had to stay an extra day before we could fly home. We found a great beach by the Lake and the whole team hung out from around 11 in the morning till 7 at night. It’s not often that you can get every guy in one place in situations like that but all the guys were there drinking beers playing beach volleyball. It was a great day and just shows how tight a group we have.

Another time was when we had to drive to Slovenia I think? Due to a giant ash cloud from a volcano in Iceland meant we couldn’t fly so had to get the bus. The bus trip was long and we arrived 20 minutes before warmup for our first game. I remember it being the middle of the night and hearing someone awake, when I looked up Gregg Chambers crunching on a massive family bag of crisps  and downing a 2litre bottle of coke hahahha

Have you any thoughts about what you may do after ice hockey?

I have a couple of options in the pipeline that I will look to pursue once I am ready.

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