Jonathan Phillips to continue impressing in lead role for Sheffield Steelers

FOR 13 seasons forward Jonathan Phillips has been a mainstay at Sheffield Steelers - 11 of which have seen him lead by example as captain.

FOLLOW ME LEADER: Jonathan Phillips will lead Sheffield Steelers' as captain for a 12th season. Picture; Dean Woolley.

Now, the 37-year-old GB international is set to lead his team out for a 12th campaign after head coach Aaron Fox decided there really was only one suitable candidate.

Except for his first season under Dave Matsos and the anomaly that was the 2013-14 campaign which saw Doug Christiansen ‘demote’ Phillips to alternate captain in order to hand import forward Steven Goertzen leading man status, Phillips has led the Steelers throughout his time in South Yorkshire.

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Since Fox first arrived in Sheffield back in April, he quickly built a relationship with the Steelers’ core group of players, with Phillips understandably a key figure and immediately impressing his new boss.

SPOILT FOR CHOICE: Sheffield Steelers' head coach was not short of candidates for leadership roles this coming season. Picture: Dean Wooley.

“Jonno was the clear choice for the captaincy,” said Fox. “As a coach you couldn’t ask for a better leader. He’s one of those guys who leads by example and does everything the right way. On the ice, in the weight room and away from the rink.”

And while it is business as usual in terms of the Steelers’ ‘C’, Fox has taken a slightly different approach to his choice of alternate captains, opting for a different pairing for home and away games - a clear nod to the added experience populating the club’s roster in comparison to last season.

The two players assisting Phillips at Sheffield Arena will be fellow GB international forward Robert Dowd and new defenceman, Aaron Brocklehurst, with forwards John Armstrong and Brendan Connolly replacing them on the road.

“All these guys are true pros’ and bring different positives to the table,” explained Fox. “With the veteran group we have, they all will play a big part in our success this year and are all absolutely ‘team first’ guys.”

Forward Brendan Connolly will be one of two alternate captains on the road for Sheffield Steelers. Picture: Dean Woolley.

The Steelers are in action this Saturday at the Fly DSA (Sheffield) Arena in a £5 all-ticket game against MAC Budapest. It will be their last scheduled warm-up game ahead of the season opener in the Challenge Cup the following weekend against Nottingham Panthers.