PAUL THOMPSON heaped praise on his captain, Jonathan Phillips for leading his Sheffield Steelers team to within touching distance of a fifth Elite league title.
Phillips cut an inspirational figure for his team against Nottingham Panthers on Saturday night, grabbing two assists in a 4-3 win which leaves the Steelers needing just one point from their final day trip to Fife Flyers on Sunday night.
So often an unsung hero over the years, the Welshman deservedly won his side’s man-of-the-match award in what is his 10th full season with the club after moving from hometown club Cardiff Devils back in 2005.
But it wasn’t just his points-scoring on the night that earned him the praise of his head coach, impressed as much with his shot blocking and frnetic forechecking throughout the 60 minutes.
“I thought our captain tonight was another level,” said Thompson.
“Jonathan Phillips dragged this team up tonight and led them to victory. In fact, all of our veteran players like (Jeff) Legue, (Rod) Sarich and Dowdy - who have all been in this situation before they all put in a great shift.
“We had a couple of guys who looked a little nervous today but I thought our ‘D’ played like hell today and (Marek) Pincy made some timely saves.
It was a real team effort and, you know what? At the end of the day, it’s just about getting the job done and we did that.”
Despite the positive outcome, Thompson said his players were determined to remain level-headed ahead of a tricky encounter in Kirckcaldy on Sunday.
Steelers have won all three previous league meetings between the two sides, but Thompson insists anything that has gone before is null and void.
“What’s happened between us and Fife counts for nothing tomorrow night,” he said.
“We respect every single team in this league, especially Fife Flyers and it’s a tough to place to go and play and our focus has to be about producing the best 60 minutes of hockey this season.
“Yes we can see the line but not one person thinks that we’re over it yet. We won’t let that happen, the veteran players won’t let that happen.
“There were no high fives and whooping and hollering in the changing room after the Nottingham game. It was all very controlled because we know the tough job facing us on Sunday.”