Five Sheffield Steelers’ skaters will represent Great Britain in the World Championship (Division I Group A) tournament this weekend, to April 28.
Straight after a gruelling domestic season, it will be a testing, high-octane challenge for captain Jonathan
Phillips, Robert Dowd, Ben O’Connor, Davey Phillips and Liam Kirk.
The six-team competition will take place at the 9,479-seater Budapest Sports Arena. GB will face hosts Hungary as well as Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland and Slovenia.
Here we shines a light on Sheffield’s famed five:
KIRK: It will be Kirk’s first trip with the senior men’s side after already competing this year for the GB U18s and GB U20s. The Maltby marvel’s name is in the NHL draft, number 65 in the International Skaters section - an amazing achievement. With the world at his feet, let’s just hope the amount of games that the 18-year-old forward has played this season won’t burn him out.
PHILLIPS (J.): Played all 56 League games for Steelers - only two other Sheffield skaters can say the same. He’s 36 in July but age is only a number to one of the fittest Brits out there. Described as the quintessential Play Off-type player by former team-mate Joonas Ronnberg.
PHILLIPS (D.): Regarded as the most improved stay-at-home defenceman around by ex Steelers assistant coach Jerry Andersson. He’s come through the GB ranks. Takes some stick on the blue line, but can give it out. The perfect foil for the offensive Ben O’Connor.
O’CONNOR: The fact he was Steelers’ top point scorer in the 2017-18 season says a lot about this outrageously-skilled defenceman, but not so much about the forwards. Ben’s confidence and ability, playing for both club and country, earmarks him as a truly special player. Scouts from other countries will be drooling.
DOWD: Missed 14 Elite League games through injury last season but averaged a point a game in the 13 matches after his return. Like O’Connor, the winger has the skills and powerful shot to turn a game. He turns 30 in May and is a mature, seasoned international.
*Meanwhile, take a look at GB's goaltending situation: Ben Bowns, of Cardiff Devils competes for the starting role with Jackson Whistle of Belfast Giants. South Yorkshire born Bowns may be favourite, but he'll be pushed all the way by Whistle, son of 2005-2006 Steelers' coach Dave.