Sheffield Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips says his team still have plenty to learn as they bid to end their debut Champions Hockey League campaign on a high against Frolunda Indians on Saturday.
The Steelers endured a baptism of fire against Frolunda in Gothenburg two weeks’ ago when they lost 9-1 but, despite slipping to two subsequent defeats to Finland’s JYP Jvyaskyla, have generally acquitted themselves well.
In the second of those defeats – a 4-2 reverse at Sheffield Arena last Sunday – the Steelers can count themselves unlucky not to have taken anything from the game, particularly after leading 1-0 at the end of the first period.
But Phillips has seen enough in the games so far to believe Paul Thompson’s team are heading in the right direction.
“People say we shouldn’t really be competing against these teams but we are,” said Phillips, part of a Steelers’ team that won 4-2 in a pre-season friendly at Manchester Storm last night.
“With every game we are improving. When you compare that first game in Frolunda to where we are now, we’ve improved immensely but there is still a lot of learning to do.
“The main difference between these teams and the EIHL is the speed mainly, not just the physical side of things and how fast people skate but also the mental aspect of the game - you have to think quicker.”
With regard to the Steelers’ chances against last year’s CHL runners-up at Sheffield Arena this Saturday (7.30pm), Phillips said: “We need a hell of a performance and make sure that we put in a 60-minute game.
“But – like any game – we’re approaching that game to win it.
“Frolunda are a very, very good team – an excellent skating team and with excellent possession and skill.
“But we want to try and match that and see what we can do against them two weeks on from the first time we played them.”