Ice hockey is a violent game and injuries like the one suffered by a Manchester Storm player will continue, says Sheffield Steelers boss

Sheffield Steelers' coach Tom Barrasso has defended the hit by defenceman Davey Phillips which injured rival player Ciaran Long in last weekend's win over Manchester Storm.

Davey Phillips close up
Davey Phillips close up

The two have a history of antagonism.

And last weekend's incident on the right wing boards at Sheffield Arena saw an enraged Linden Springer jump on former Storm man Phillips to try and exact revenge for the heavy collision which caught the visiting player high.

Long, who had a facial injury, went off the ice for treatment, but returned to play later on in the game, which Sheffield won 4-1.

The incident did nothing to improve Manchester fans’ already hostile view towards their 31-year-old former player.

Barrasso said: "I have seen a replay of it, hockey is a violent game at times.

"I don't think the hit is dirty, I think it is a hit you regret seeing - you hate seeing players leave games injured.

"But if we are going to keep physicality in the game there are going to be times when that happens, unfortunately," said the coach.

Sheffield were in a tailspin when Barrasso arrived, having lost their last three games and were sliding down the table.

Now their form has picked up markedly.

The coach said the evolution "can't happen any faster than it's happened.

"We set the goal for ourselves to get back to '500.'

"I didn't think it would happen as it has.

"We are certainly growing together as a group, we are getting better as a group, but we still got a long way to go."

Eric Neiley returned to the squad after his switch from Milton Keynes Lightning and occupied a fourth line role.

"We had been 6+1 (wins) in our last seven I am not inclined to make too many line-up changes when we are 6+1.

"I think going forward, (after the Storm win) we'll be seeing any changes either."

Barrasso said he felt goalie Matt Climie had been protected well in his Arena debut, especially in the first two periods, against Storm.

And he was happy that the player was "easing his way back into playing some hockey again."