Sheffield Steelers v Manchester Storm - Jonathan Phillips hails importance of Elite Series for GB stars

REGARDLESS of whether Sheffield Steelers’ make it through to the best-of-three final in the ongoing Elite Series, captain Jonathan Phillips believes he and his fellow Great Britain internationals have benefitted greatly from the experience.

On a mission: Sheffield Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips looking forward to Manchester Storm game. (Picture: Dean Woolley)

The Steelers head into tonight’s second leg of their semi-final against Manchester Storm at the National Ice Centre 5-4 ahead after Tuesday night’s first leg.

Should they prevail tonight, a best-of-three grand finale awaits against Nottingham Panthers starting on Saturday to decide the eventual winner.

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Once the behind-closed-doors tournament has ended – by Monday at the latest – Phillips and a number of his Steelers’ team-mates will then turn their attentions to international duty and next month’s World Championships in Latvia.

The current four-team competition in Nottingham was chiefly created to help GB’s players get into some kind of shape to face the likes of Russia and Sweden in Riga, given their 2020-21 season has been ruined by the coronavirus pandemic.

And Phillips, preparing for his 16th World Championships event for his country, believes the Elite Series has served its purpose.

“The games have been competitive throughout, which is what we have needed as players,” said the 38-year-old veteran winger. “I don’t think anyone has run away with things, you’ve had to turn up every single night and play, results have proved that.

“It has been intense and with a good amount of skill. All the players have really enjoyed being a part of it.”

Phillips expects Ryan Finnerty’s Storm team to make life as difficult tonight as they have done throughout the whole tournament, each meeting being a keenly-fought affair.

“They are a good team, who get under your skin but they’ve got plenty of threat and can finish,” said Phillips. “We knew it would be tough Tuesday and it will no different second time around.”

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