IT’S clear that the Sheffield Steelers will not need any added incentive to beat Cardiff Devils in Sunday’s Elite League Play-off Final.
Given the Devils have inherited their league crown, beaten them in the Challenge Cup Final and are going for a grand slam of titles at Nottingham’s National Ice Centre, the Steelers have enough reasons to ensure they prevail in the season’s grand finale and clinch some silverware in a so-far barren season.
But, at the back of their minds, they may also want to mark what will be a very special afternoon for one of their own in what would be a truly fitting way.
When he walks out on the ice to face his former club, Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips will be making his 683rd appearance for the club, setting a new all-time appearance record for the Steelers and edging past his long-time team-mate and good friend Jason Hewitt, who broke Ron Shudra’s previous record last year.
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A humble Phillips himself will deliberately avoid any mention of the significant achievement, but there will be plenty of people lining up to pay tribute to him, whether his team wins or loses today.
This club is everything to him, he lives and breathes it. For him to do all what he has won here is simply remarkableSheffield Steelers’ head coach, Paul Thompson, on record-breaking captain, Jonahthan Phillios
Steelers’ head coach, Paul Thompson, said what Phillips has achieved at the Steelers is nothing short of remarkable.
“I know what a great leader and a person he is from before me coming here from when I used to coach on the national team and he was my captain there,” said Thompson.
“This club is everything to him, he lives and breathes it and he is a fantastic conduit from the players to the coaching staff and to the management.
“For him to come from Cardiff and match the Steelers’ appearance record tells you a lot about the guy because in sport it is tough to stay anywhere for more than one or two years the way the world is right now.
“So for him to do what he has done here, win all the trophies he has won during his time here is simply remarkable.”