Jonathan Phillips has hailed the “unreal” performances of Robert Dowd - but Luke Ferrara has been axed
GB secured promotion to the World Championship Division 1 Group A with a series romp in Belfast.
“It was a wicked tournament, a solid team performance from the first game to the last” said Phillips, recovering from three facial fractures sustained during one of the games. “Dowdy is always going to be a big part of any team he plays for” he said. “In our first game he scored our first goal on the Power Play against Croatia - it’s a big thing from someone to get that first goal of a tournament, you know that you are off to the races.
He was on top of his game for Steelers and carried it straight through to the tournament, and you could see him filled with confidence and enjoying his hockey.
“The way he controls the puck and the impact he has on a game is unreal.
“Ben O’Connor was making plays from day one and was the guy who was ready to lead the PP. Like all of us after the Play Offs, he went into this full of beans and ready to commit.
“Davey Phillips was as solid as ever, he plays so well with Ben, he really compliments him.
“Ben gets all the applause for the fancy things he does but you need a steady man beside him and Davey is just that.
“He is always looking to give Benny the puck as quickly as possible to make the plays. He was solid defensively and skates so well.
“Japan, in the final game, was the big test - we hadn’t really been tested until then, but we were ready for battle. It was a memorable series and all the lads did great.”
*Steelers head coach Paul Thompson has released Luke Ferrara, saying it was “one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make in hockey”
The club executed a clause in the contract of Ferrara allowing him to move on to another EIHL club this summer.
“It’s not a conversation I looked forward to or enjoyed” said Thompson.
“Everyone at the Steelers loves Luke, he is one of the nicest and most likeable people you could you meet. I haven’t had a moment’s problem with him since arriving at the club which makes today decision to release him even harder
“I am however paid to be the General Manager and Head Coach of the Sheffield Steelers and sometimes very difficult decisions like this have to be made for the long term betterment of the club and that is what I believe we have done today.
“Liam Kirk is an exceptional talent and I have to play him, I need to see what a talent he is, it’s the next step of his development as a professional.
“In making that decision I realised that as much as I loved and respected Luke, him being our 13th forward wasn’t good for any of us.
“Luke totally bought into what we did here and I have no complaints. It’s time he moved on and played a bigger role with another club, get better minutes than he would have here. Everyone at the club wishes him well and all the best
“I believe though that we have Marcus Rashford waiting in the wings, that’s how highly we think of young Liam if you get my comparison. All through his junior career Liam has been a step ahead, again last year with the Steeldogs in the EPL he led the way.
“I see something very special every day working with him. It will take time I’m sure but this is a decision I have thought long and hard about and as upsetting as it was to do what we have today I am convinced we have made the right decision for the Sheffield Steelers
“Both Liam and Cole Shudra will be with us full time next season, no loaning out to lower division sides. Full time Steelers, every training session and every game. It’s their time.”