Cup final with Cardiff Devils deserves two '˜fresh' teams says Sheffield Steelers skipper

Steelers' captain Jonathan Phillips believes the Elite League's insistence that they play a game 24 hours before the Challenge Cup final in Cardiff shows the administrating body in a bad light.

Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 4:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 8:30 am
Jonathan Phillips man of the match

Sheffield have to play Coventry Blaze in the League on Saturday before embarking on the trip to play Devils in their own rink on Sunday.

Steelers and Coventry had agreed to play on another date and announced the change- but that common-sense switch was over-ruled by the authorities, causing a severe embarassment to owner Tony Smith.

Phillips, who had two spells at Cardiff in the early and mid 2000s, said it “would not have harmed anyone” to have moved the match from the previous night to the cup final.

“At the end of the day it’s a League final, if you have got the ability to change that fixture the night before and two fresh teams face off against each other on a Sunday then surely that is a good thing for the League?

“But it is the rule and there is nothing that can be done.”

Phillips is a positive influence on the club and is looking forward to the final, despite limited preparation time. “It is a nice new rink, we’ve played well down there, just not had the luck and bounces. We’ve taken bad penalties towards end of games and that’s cost us but we’re confident going down there.

Jonathan Phillips man of the match

“It is something we have not won in the Elite League era and is something we are really pushing for.”

And referring to the Coventry match, the winger said: “We have got to keep doing what we do and try and win our games.”

He said the Blaze game would not be overlooked. “We need to bring our ‘A’ game and be ready for that.”

Phillips goes into this weekend buoyed by scoring two goals against Nottingham Panthers, last Saturday. The 34-year-old is not known for his goals, and admitted: “I always get a lot of chances but it has always been a downfall of mine.”

Jonathan Phillips scored two goals against Nottingham

n Former Steeler and Guildford Flames forward Lee Esders has welcomed the decision for his former team Flames to join the EIHL and believes their location will make them an attraction.

Esders, now at Braehead, played for the Flames last season and won the EPL play-offs alongside current Belfast Giants player Matt Towe.

“I was excited for everyone at Guildford, the fans and the guys still there that I played with when I heard they were going to be coming into the Elite League next year” he said.

Jonathan Phillips man of the match
Jonathan Phillips scored two goals against Nottingham