Sheffield Steelers: Accidentaldamage

Apology: Dundee's Chris Zarb.

Apology: Dundee's Chris Zarb.

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Mark Thomas, who joined Steelers in the 2005-6 seaon, should reach a milestone this weekend. If he plays both games he’ll reach 500 games played.

A TOUGH ice hockey player has insisted he did not deliberately injure Sheffield Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips and says he is sorry for the injury he inadvertently caused.

Dundee Stars’ 6ft 4in American, Chris Zarb, injured Phillips in an incident the referee regarded as a “kneeing” infraction.

It led to a tirade of internet abuse for Zarb from fans angry that Phillips, who suffered a similar fate last year, would be out for months again.

The most hurtful allegation, from Zarb’s point of view, was that the clash of knees - which led to him fighting Phillips’ teammate Matt Stephenson - had been a deliberate attempt to injure. In a note to Steelers, he wrote: “I normally would not do this but I have seen what people are saying about the incident with Phillips and it’s making me really upset.

“I would NEVER, EVER intentionally try and hurt anyone.

“I have bad knees myself and for these people to personally attack me and say that they ‘hope that I get what I deserve’ is absolutely absurd,” added the 26-year-old.

“I have never been a dirty player and I never will be. I have seen the hit on video, and it is clear that I did not stick my knee out.

“I was simply trying to make an open-ice hit and he tried to side-step me and we hit knees.

“If anything the hit was too high on my part. I had no prior knowledge about his knee problems and, again, I would never purposely try and injure anyone.

“I fought Stephenson because I knew what it looked like to everybody so I manned up and fought for it.

“I am not a fighter. I don’t know what to do about this situation because I have never been in it before.”

Ex-Philadelphia Phantoms player Zarb said he wanted to get in touch with Phillips to explain his sorrow.

Phillips will miss Steelers’ games at Cardiff tonight and the return leg tomorrow at Sheffield Arena (5pm). Steelers will be raising their 2010-11 Championship winning banner immediately before tomorrow’s match.

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