Classy Sheffield Steelers’ star’s sporting apology to Nottingham Panther pal

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In a rivalry which regularly boils over into hand-to-hand warfare, there is rarely much friendliness shown between Sheffield Steelers and Nottingham Panthers players.

But Guillaume Desbiens, scorer of the Play Quarter final series-winner against Panthers “felt bad” for his marker who was aiming to shut him down.

Desbiens scorched past fellow Canadian forward Logan MacMillan to score Sunday’s overtime winner.

Reflecting on the heart-stopping moment, Desbiens recalled: “Earlier in the game, in the second period, I did the same play. It was Logan Macmillan, (marking him) he is actually a good buddy of mine, he is a forward playing on ‘D’ so I kind of knew that - he skates really well - but at the same time he is not a natural defenceman.

“My original thinking was to dump it and chase but then I saw it was him I tried to go wide and bring it to the net you never know what is going to happen.

“My first thinking wasn’t: ‘I am going to score a goal.’ But the goalie kind of opened his pad and I stuffed it in.”

Guillaume Desbiens against Nottingham Panthers

Guillaume Desbiens against Nottingham Panthers

After the game, he said: “We shook hands and I said: ‘sorry Bud’ and he was like: ‘If there was anyone I’d want to score it was you.’ In the end I wanted my team to win so I tried to do what I could.”

Desbiens, who is almost certain to return next season added: “Beating Nottingham was very satisfying; it is one of the biggest rivarlies I’ve played in. They were a team that was in between us and our goal. It is probably a bit sweeter that it is them.

n Captain Jonathan Phillips will be return to Steelers for a 12th season after a contract renewal was announced by the club. On Monday he was voted the “Best British Player” by supporters at the annual awards night.

On Saturday, in the play off semi final against Belfast Giants Phillips will make his 682nd appearance in a Steelers uniform, equalling the all time record held by Jason Hewitt. The coach Paul Thompson said “Jonno brings leadership, he is a quality player and person. It’s no coincidence that this club has won so much with him leading the team.”

Guillaume Desbiens in action

Guillaume Desbiens in action

Thompson added: “His career isn’t close to ending. He is in great shape, he’s motivated like never before and this club needs him at the helm.

“We saw on Sunday that come those big moments he is a man we can count on scoring that super-important short handed goal for us. We also saw just how much it meant to him. We are thrilled to be bringing him back.”

Phillips said “I’m delighted that club have offered me a new contract. We have achieved so much here but still have so much more we want to do, starting this weekend at the play offs. I’ve been lucky over the year to have shared the stage with many great players. I do so again this year, we have an excellent room with everyone determined to succeed.

“As for the appearance record. It’s not something you really keep an eye on. Then it gets mentioned to you and I guess you first of all feel old.

“I’m proud though to have pulled this shirt on so many times. This is a great club and I am honoured to be its captain.

“It’s a role I take seriously. I know how proud Hewey was when he took the record off Ron Shudra, a club legend. I will be equally as proud on Saturday when I join my friend on 682 games.”

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