Great Britain Star Moves One Step Closer to NHL Dream

Mark BatemanCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2009

Great Britain defenceman Dave Phillips has moved closer to achieving his ambition of playing in the National Hockey League, after signing for the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The Beverley-born player was invited to a training camp by the Chicago Blackhawks and has impressed the scouts and managers enough to land a deal with the IceHogs, who are an affiliate of the Blackhawks.

As well as playing for the IceHogs, he will also ply his trade for the Gwinnett Gladiators of the East Coast Hockey League, as part of a two-way contract.

Phillips' move to America has been heralded as a huge success for British ice hockey and if Phillips was to make his professional bow for the Blackhawks, he would join a very select band of British players to have played in the big show.

The 21-year-old Phillips began his career with his hometown club, the Excel Hull Stingrays, and he quickly established himself as a first-team regular.

Phillips played for the team for five years, in which he also filled the position of assistant captain.

Phillips was hungry for silverware and decided to move to the Stingrays' Elite League rivals, the Belfast Giants.

He had a record season in Northern Ireland last year and was part of Great Britain's successful IIHF World Championship bronze-medal winning side, in April.

This attracted the attentions of scouts across the pond and Phillips was invited to a training camp last week.

Phillips told his hometown newspaper, The Hull Daily Mail, he was delighted to have secured a deal and is looking forward to the challenge ahead.

He said: "I'm really excited about this and I think it is a great opportunity.

"I never even dreamed of ever getting to skate with prospects from an NHL team in front of their scouts and management, and now I'll have the chance to play week in, week out with them."