Sheffield Steelers' Robert Dowd and Jonathan Phillips two of best British hockey players ever, new goaltender says

New Steelers' goaltender Ben Churchfield spent his formative hockey years developing at iceSheffield, starting off with the Sheffield Greyhounds as an Under 16 prospect.

By Bob Westerdale
Thursday, 10th September 2020, 7:00 am

Over the next few seasons he kept a close eye on the affairs of fellow Brits, over the road at the arena.

He hopes to realise his dream of playing with two of them if the Elite League re-starts in December or the new year.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

"The opportunity to play with Robert Dowd and Jonathan Phillips is one of the things I'm looking forward to the most about coming to Sheffield," Churchfield said.

"They are no doubt two of the best British hockey players to have ever played the game, even more they're both great leaders and people I will always look up to. I know I'm going to learn from them every day."

Churchfield emerged on Steelers' coach Aaron Fox's radar after a tip from the club's fitness coach Danny Mawer.

He said: "A few teams in the EIHL reached out to me around Christmas time. I believe Danny clued Aaron Fox in about me.

Aerial action of a Steelers' match v Panthers, last season

"I played with Danny during his time with the Sheffield Spartans. I would get the bus from Maltby to Meadowhall where Ben Bowns (former Cardiff Devils goalie) would pick me up and drive to meet Danny either at the Sheffield Hallam gym or the Steel City steps for some brutal morning runs.

"That was just before Danny completed his masters degree and got the role with the Steelers.

"I remember one day Jonathan Phillips turned up and just being able to see the level of dedication and how professionally he trained was another invaluable experience I was lucky to have.

"It gave me the perspective from a young age of what it takes to play at that level."

The league board will meet on September 15 to discuss whether a December start is likely to happen - all will depend on whether the clubs have confidence the

Government will relax social distancing enough to fill a majority of seats.

That appears a long shot - but around half of the clubs may push ahead with the alternative of a streamlined competition starting in January or February.

Keep up to date with all the latest from Sheffield Steelers via our dedicated Twitter account @TheStarSteelers, or join our Steelers Facebook group.