David Simms Steelers’ ice hockey column: Sheffield men keep GB team at top table

They did queen and country proud and our boys led the way playing a pivotal role in GB remaining in the top tier of World Ice Hockey for another year.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 2:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 4:40 pm
Great Britain's forward Robert Dowd, left, celebrates with defender Ben O'Connor

Liverpool’s comeback was sensational. The same of Spurs, magnificent.

GB however said: Liverpool, Spurs, we will raise you.

The final game of the World Championships, 3-0 down to France, the French of all people.

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GB played their best hand, 32 minutes later Ben Davies scores an overtime winner which completed the most remarkable week in the side’s recent history.

A 4-3 overtime victory and GB play in the World Pool again next year in Switzerland.

As expected our Steeler troops played their part. Ben O’Connor assisted on all three GB goals in regulation including a sublime interception and pass to Robert Dowd for the first goal.

Many had criticized Benny in the games prior to that the French encounter. Like they expected the free spirit Benny to wheel and dominate against USA and Canada like he does against Coventry and Nottingham.

O’Connor raised his game against the French. It was a ‘jump on my back’ performance as he led the way. Dowd, Hammond (Manchester) and Farmer, once of this parish in Sheffield and sadly now of that village side down the road, tied the game at 3-3. Game on, time to roll the dice.

Did you see on social media the Paul Thompson tweet about captain Jonathan Phillips? It read “Jonno is the best captain GB and the Steelers have ever had. He lives in the reeds & when it matters, when it really matters he is the Great White.” What true words about the man we know so well.

Well in overtime, at a face off in our defensive zone, Jonathan Phillips goes over to centre Ben Davies and tells him to push the puck forward from the face off: “I’ll beat the defenceman in a foot race,” he tells Davies.

The Guildford Flames forward did the job, winning the draw and pushing the puck down to the other end of the rink.

The Steelers captain heads off and as expected beats the French defender to the loose puck, Phillips is then taken down to the ice but is up as quick as a flash to deliver a pass to Davies who has now joined him in attack.

Davies makes a forehand backhand play finding the back of the net. GB win.

I was so delighted that Jonathan Phillips played such a major part in that historic goal.

The most influential player of a generation, the most capped, the most performances, the most as captain, the most trophies won. We are lucky and privileged that he is ours.

As I said, Dowdy’s goal. I thought he was the most consistent forward on the team. Credit Hammond though for his goals. Dowdy was relentless. I texted him on the morning of the game. “I hope you’re not worrying about not scoring so far, you’re playing great and you know you always get the big goals, the ones that matter.”

He didn’t let me down like he has never let any of us down, he scored that big goal that got GB going.

Once again the guy that goes almost unnoticed is Davey Phillips but I thought he was immense. In every game giving his all, doing his job, mixing it physically with the best in the World, not the best in the Elite League, the best in the NHL, the best in the World.

Davey is a massive cog in the Steelers wheel. After playing for various sides over here, Hull, Belfast, Coventry, Manchester Davey has found his spiritual home in Sheffield.

Our club wouldn’t be the same without him, it would be a far worse club if he wasn’t a part of it. I think we all love Davey don’t we?

Our young pup Liam Kirk, he may be the property of the Peterborough Petes in Canada, but underneath he is still one of our own. Another great tournament for him, another step forward in his journey.

In a year or so we will be looking to him to perform the heroics Davey, Jonno, Benny and Dowdy did this week. He won’t be shy, he will come to the fore, of that I have no doubt.

Quiet in Steelerland? Well quiet in news but not in progress. Head coach and GM Arron Fox is making significant progress and it wouldn’t surprise me if we had some good news to give you next week.