Sheffield Steelers v Fife Flyers - Jonathan Phillips heartened by players’ strength in injury adversity

JONATHAN PHILLIPS says Sheffield Steelers have gained one huge benefit from their recent shortage in numbers – with such adversity helping strengthen the Elite League team’s bond.

Sheffield Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips rounds the back of the Fife Flyers net during last month's win over their Scottish rivsals at Sheffield Arena. Picture: Dean Woolley/EIHL

The Steelers were low on numbers but not in spirit last weekend when they overcame Manchester Storm twice in the Challenge Cup.

Saturday’s 5-3 win on home ice came about despite only having 15 fit skaters, with some of those playing through injury, including teenage forward Alex Graham.

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It’s not clear how many of Steelers’ walking wounded will be return to face Fife Flyers in tonight’s league encounter at Sheffield Arena (7.30pm), but team captain Phillips is confident the never-say-die attitude displayed against Storm will again be on display.

“When there are games like that, or stretches like that, I think you can really almost build a team that way, it can cement some chemistry and some confidence,” said Phillips.

“Not that I think we were down on confidence, but it really helps solidify that team bond and a team’s self-belief.

“When you’re down on numbers, it’s also a chance for other people to step up and fill those gaps and you really see where the heart is.

“And on Friday and Saturday, you really saw that heart and determination that we have as a group. It was a whatever-it-takes-to win kind of thing.

UNTIL NEXT TIME: Players from Sheffield Steelers and Fife Flyers - including Robert Dowd (far left) - have a few words with each other around the visitors' net during last month's encounter in Sheffield. Picture: Dean Woolley/EIHL.

“It was huge for team morale and probably a good time for it to happen so early in the season as it helps bring the team closer together.”

Tonight will be Fife’s second visit of the season to South Yorkshire, coming only 10 days after their previous outing when they were beaten 5-2.

Todd Dutiaume’s team come into the game in confident mood, however, having beaten Dundee Stars 5-0 on Sunday night.

“You can see that their results, since we last played them have picked it up,” added Phillips.

“As we’ve we’ve said many times before, you can’t take anybody lightly – the nights you do that, it comes back to bite you.”