The signing schedule of the Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning continues with the addition of former Chicago Blackhawks entry drafted defenceman, Paul Phillips. The 25 year old American moves to Lightning after two seasons with the Manchester Storm.
During his time with the Storm, Paul was not only included in the EIHL All Star Second Team but also scored more goals than any other defenceman in the league (2015-16).
He began his career close to home with the Chicago Fury before moving to neighbouring Iowa in 2007 after being drafted by Cedar Rapids Roughriders in the USHL draft – as well as by the Ottawa 67’s in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
In 2009 he moved to Colorado to begin studying at the University of Denver; by now he was on the radar of NHL scouts and was drafted to the Chicago Blackhawks in his freshman season – in 2012 he would go on to attend the
Blackhawks’ prospect summer training camp.
Paul played in all four seasons that he studied in Denver, twice earning selection for the NCAA All Academic Team, a respected team-mate as both Alternate Captain then Captain in his last two seasons.
His studies complete, Paul moved to the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles for a season before moving to Norway for his first taste of the European game with Lillehammer, ending the season as top goal scoring defenceman.
In 2015 he arrived in Britain as part of the roster for Manchester Storm’s debut season – 15 goals and 34 assists seeing him spend the year as the club’s fourth highest points scorer overall, and highest points scoring defenceman by a considerable margin. In both seasons with the Storm Paul was one of the team’s alternate captains.
The player spoke about how much he is looking forward to his new challenge:
“I’m extremely excited to be on board with the Lightning. I’m very grateful for my time in Manchester, but looking forward to a new experience, and making the most of this opportunity in Milton Keynes.
“When the opportunity arose to play for such an established coach with a winning organisation moving to the EIHL, I couldn’t pass it up. I look forward to meeting my new teammates, the Lightning fans and continuing my career in the Elite League. I can’t wait for the season to start!’
Having previously described himself as “a defence-minded defenceman with offence where needed”, Paul’s versatility will no doubt be a huge asset to the Lightning in a landmark season – and Lightning Head Coach Pete Russell is in no doubt about his value:
“Paul is a two way defenceman with a real offensive punch. He’s a great skater, carries puck as well as anyone and has a great shot.
“Another big part of Paul’s game is the pride he also takes in his own zone. He puts his body on the line and blocks shots, and is tough in key areas. He is good on the point on the powerplay and solid on the penalty kill thanks to his great hockey sense.”
Enthusiastic about Paul’s leadership skills, Coach Russell continued:
“Paul is a quality person and for sure will be a part of our leadership group here in MK. Again I am delighted to have been able to add not just a quality player but a even better person.
“I know his team mates and our supporters are going to love him and I’m delighted to have been able to sign him for our important first Elite League season!”