The 33-year-old defenceman was a late addition to the Steeldogs’ roster ahead of the behind-closed-doors tournament, but has quickly proved a pivotal piece in their unbeaten start to the competition.
Phillips, initially signed to neighbouring Elite League team Sheffield Steelers until the Covid-19 pandemic ended hopes of a 2020-21 top-flight season, has reunited with a number of his team-mates from the FlyDS Arena.
Jonathan Phillips, Alex Graham and Liam Kirk have all laced up alongside Phillips for the Steelers at one point or another, but it is his return to playing alongside fellow D-man Ben O’Connor that has helped the Hull-born GB international slot in so seamlessly at Ice Sheffield.
And while he admits it has taken a short while to regain his on-ice fitness, everything else he has learned over the years clicked back into gear almost immediately on the opening weekend double-header against Swindon Wildcats.
““Maybe the on-ice fitness wasn’t quite 100 per cent but, to be honest, it just felt like being back to normal straightaway,” said Phillips. “You’ve played so many games over the years, it’s almost like going to automatic pilot, you just switch to game mode.
“Being paired with Ben helped in those first two games immensely, all the games I’ve played in the last four years have been alongside Ben, either with the Steelers or GB, so it helped smooth the process and made my life a lot easier.
“We know each others’ games inside out and seem to instinctively know where each other is on the ice in certain situations.”
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