Stricken Steelers skipper Jonathan Phillips has accused American d-man Chris Zarb of being reckless after the challenge which has sidelined him until Christmas.
Phillips damaged his left knee in the incident against Dundee Stars - an identical blow to last year when he was out three and a half months. He nw faces another operation. The Welshman said: “I don’t know whether it was deliberate attempt to ‘knee’ me or not, but it was certainly reckless.
“That’s why Matt Stephenson jumped in and fought him after I got hurt.
“But I suppose nobody goes out to do something like that. It’s just my bad luck to be on the end of it.”
Phillips said it was a shame that he would be out just as the team was beginning to bond together. “It’s been pretty disorganised at times out there, which is to be expected, given the amount of new guys we have had. But we have been trying to execute the systems as best we can and are starting to gel. “Ryan (Finnerty, player coach) plays in a similar way to Ben Simon (player coach); he is a finish-off-your-hits sort of player and I think the team will be as exciting as last year.”
Steelers’ defensive corp is not as big since Kevin Bolibruck and Steve Munn have left. But Phillips says: “I didn’t know Stephenson could fight until I saw what happened last Saturday and Chad Huttel is as wide as he is tall, so I don’t think we’ll have any problems being pushed around at the back.”
Finnerty, meanwhile, has described Phillips’ loss as a “huge blow.”
“For this to happen twice in 12 months is crazy. Jono worked harder than anyone in summer to get back to full fitness. He has been playing so well for us and for the knee to get hit again is cruel.”
Jeff Legue will be captain until Phillips returns to the line up around Christmas.
“It’s an honour to be named as captain but I wish it hadn’t happened” said Legue. “Jono remains our captain, I just get to wear the “C” on game days. We wish him all the best and we want to see him return as quickly as possible.”