When Sheffield Steelers line up this weekend for their two Challenge cup matches, there will be an absent spot where Rod Sarich used to stand.
The 35-year-old veteran says he’s finally hung up his skates after a 10-year career at the club.
He’s helped out in the recent Champions Hockey League programme, but that appears to be the last time he’ll ice for the club again, unless an injury-cover agreement can be forged.
Replacing the impact made by the 582-game Steeler falls now to the remaining defencemen, including Davey Phillips, who has made a good start in his debut year.
Referring to Sarich, Phillips said: “He’s been a great servant for the club, he’s had a hell of a career. He has been really influential...personally, he has given me a lot of encouragement and advice, he is a steady elder statesman, a good guy to pass on words of wisdom.”
Sarich had helped Phillips with tips of passing and stick-position, he revealed.
“He was always positive, I might have had a bad shift and he’s like: ‘It’s OK, get the next one A nice calming presence.”
The post-Sarich era begins at Coventry Blaze on Saturday and at home to Nottingham Panthers on Sunday.
Phillips said both teams, in common with all Elite League sides, looked good on paper, but he feels Steelers will do well if play every game like they did against Salzburg, last weekend. And he expects Jesse Scultz to carry on where he left off - he banged in a hat-trick against the Austrians.
“It was just waiting for him (Schultz) to open up” said the former Manchester Storm d-man.
“He’d had an excellent week of practice and been scoring all week.
“When he is training like that you know it is going to fall over into a game as well. He has as good a shot as Dowdy (Rob Dowd.)”
Phillips added: “We need to get those guys the puck and then let them be direct.
“We have been playing at a high pace and tempo with all four blocks and we want to take that into the Elite League.”