Sheffield Steelers’ and GB legend Jonathan Phillips no intention of exiting world stage yet after major milestone

SHEFFIELD STEELERS and Great Britain captain Jonathan Phillips hasn’t ruled out going on to try and become his country’s most-capped player after passing the century milestone at the World Championships.

ACTION MAN: Jonathan Phillips closes down the Denmark goalkeeeper. Picture: Dean Woolley.
ACTION MAN: Jonathan Phillips closes down the Denmark goalkeeeper. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Phillips and his GB team-mates earned their first point of the tournament in Riga, taking Denmark into overtime before losing out 3-2.

Had it been GB that had prevailed nobody could have argued as they rallied in the second and third periods to more than match opponents who hammered them 9-0 two years ago in Slovakia.

It would also have been a fitting result to match Phillips’s remarkable feat of reaching his 100th cap, the 38-year-old Cardiff-born winger playing at his 21st tournament for his country.

But, GB are up and running with their first point ahead of Wednesday’s showdown with Belarus (face-off 6.15pm UK time).

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Great Britain 2 Denmark 3 (OT) – GB up & running at World Championships in Riga

Phillips is now third in the all-time list, behind David Longstaff and former Steelers’ team-mate Ashley Tait, who is the most-capped GB player with 110.

And the former Cardiff Devils’ forward doesn’t seem to harbour any plans yet of hanging up his skates on the international stage, not surprising given that GB are guaranteed another campaign in the top-tier in Finland next year.

GETTING BETTER: GB defenceman Davey Phillips in action against Denmark on Tuesday in riga. Picture courtersy of Den Woolley.

“I’m really, really proud and honoured to be able to do this 100 times,” said Phillips on Tuesday night.

“And it really is a case where you can’t wait for these tournaments - for years it has been so much fun and hopefully there are many more to come.

“I’ve never really looked at milestones, but I’ll admit 100 caps was something I did want to get to when I realised how close I was getting but, to be honest, I just want to keep playing.”

Phillips admitted there were mixed feelings in the GB dressing after the overtime defeat to Denmark, disappointment seemingly the prevailing mood despite their best performance of the tournament so far.

Jonathan Phillips warms up to face Denmark In Rig - his 100th match for GB. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“It is a strange emotion in a way,” he added. “We knew we messed up the last time we played Denmark - maybe we looked at it as a game that we had a chance in and we took that for granted a little bit.

“Today it was definitely in our minds that we wanted to rectify that last outing and prove it.

So we’re all disappointed not to have got the win, but confidence is definitely riding high.

“Each day we want to keep growing and building and getting better and we definitely did that against Denmark.

Mike Hammond, right, tuyrns away to celebrate his late equaliser which earned GB their first point of the World Championships in Riga. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“That was definitely one of our best games so far, including two years ago in Slovakia but - again - we’re disappointed not to come away with the full points.

“And you can see the confidence growing now and that belief in ourselves that we do belong here.”

GB come up against a Belarus side rested since Monday, but looking to bounce back after a 3-2 defeat to Group A rivals the Czech Republic. They will remain buoyed, however, after their 1-0 win over Sweden on Sunday, which came on the back of a 5-2 opening night loss to early group leaders Slovakia, who only edged out GB 2-1 on Sunday.

“Belarus have got that Russian style of playing,” added Phillips. “They are big, quick, strong and very skilled - we’ve got to be switched on from the first puck drop.

“For us, we need to keep concentrating on ourselves and keep making sure that we’re making those small improvements day to day and then hopefully we can start creating some upsets of our own.”

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