Markus Phillips played a huge role in Guelph’s OHL championship run last season. Now he’s trying to do it again, this time with the London Knights.
The Los Angeles Kings property started the season in the pro ranks, playing 20 games with the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets before moving up to the AHL’s Ontario Reign.
With a couple of Ontario players due back from injury, he thought he might be heading back to the ECHL just after Christmas. Instead the Kings sent him back to the Ontario Hockey League.
After sitting at home for a few days the Guelph Storm traded his rights to London for three draft picks.
“Obviously this is a good spot to be in,” Phillips said, quickly adding “whether it was here or Guelph it would have been a good spot.”
“I just looked at the situation up there and I just wanted to play. Rather than being scratched every one in three or one in four games, I’d rather come down here and get some ice time.
“Their (LA Kings) feelings were exactly the same. They needed me to play. It wasn’t a want, it was that they needed me to play. Especially at 20 years old, they can’t have me watching.”
Many players returned to the junior ranks from the pros come back with a bad attitude, or at least need an adjustment period. Not Phillips.
“I just wanted to have a good attitude and come down here and work even harder than ever and make it a reality next year and hopefully play in the NHL, not even the American Hockey League.
Since he joined the Knights 13 games ago they’ve gone 11-2.
Known more for his defensive and puck-moving prowess than offensive ability, Phillips has two goals and two assists over that span.
More importantly he is a plus-14.
He's played a lot paired with Ryan Merkley who has also reaped the rewards of Phillips joining the Knights, picking up 22 points in the 13 games since Phillips’ arrival and is a plus-11 over that span.
“Since I’ve been here it’s been nothing but positive, but you can’t look too far into the future when the standings are this tight.”
Phillips, who speaks regularly with Nick Suzuki and Sean Durzi, said it’s always good to play against old teammates, no matter who it is.
“I’m looking forward to playing up in Owen Sound against some old teammates there and coming back to the Sleeman Centre next Friday will be fun too."