Sheffield Steelers’ loss is a big one - but we’ll recruit well says d-man Davey

Ben O'Connor - off to Kazakhstan
Ben O'Connor - off to Kazakhstan

Davey Phillips says he was hugely disappointed to learn that linemate Ben O’Connor was leaving Sheffield Steelers - but is also pleased that his pal has landed such a lucrative career contract.

Club and country team-mate O’Connor triggered interest in his services after the successful Great Britain world championship tournament, in Hungary, eventually landing a highly-paid KHL deal with the Barys Astana club in Kazakhstan.

Phillips had no prior warning of the move and said: “From a personal point of view, I was gutted at the thought of my defensive partner leaving.

“But as a friend I am pleased he has got the chance he definitely deserves after what he has achieved (the gold medal winner also scooped World Championship (D1A) All-Star Team selection, best dman, most goals by dman, most points by dman awards.)

“He had an excellent season with Sheffield and an outstanding world championships and that has put him in the shop window. As a British player he is irreplaceable, but with a British (immigration-status) goalkeeper (Jackson Whistle) coming in, Thommo (coach Paul Thompson) has the flexibility to find good import cover.”

With Zack Fitzgerald and Joonas Ronnberg leaving, a decision is due on whether Scott Aarssen and Miika Franssila will be offered fresh deals on the blue line.

Asked about the two players, Phillips said: “It is not up to me, but if Thommo can find replacements for anybody who he thinks will be better, then that his decision to make. I believe in Thommo as a coach to make the right recruitment.”

Phillips added: “I am very happy at the club and have been treated great from day one.”