It’s third against fourth in the NIHL National this weekend as the Phantoms and the Bison do battle in a double header.
Ashley Tait’s Bison side are in good form of late, winning six of their last nine games in the league. The two sides have met twice in that run of games, with each team picking up one win each.
The Bison are one point behind the Phantoms with games in hand on Slava Koulikov’s side, making this a very important weekend for both sides.
Phantoms will be without the services of Jarvis Hunt and Gareth O’Flaherty this weekend. Hunt picked up a knock against the Leeds Chiefs last weekend. O’Flaherty was injured last time the Phantoms visited Basingstoke and hasn’t featured since.
Martins Susters and Petr Stepanek both go in search of their 50th point of the season this weekend. The two forwards are on 49 points each, as they look to join Ales Padelek (55) and James Ferrara (51) in passing the 50 point milestone.
Michal Klejna is the main goal threat for the Bison, with 24 goals and 28 assists in 33 games in the NIHL National so far this term. The 32-year-old is a threat from the blue line on the powerplay; something the Phantoms will need to be wary of this weekend. Klejna picked up two goals and two assists in the Bison’s last game; an 8-2 win over the Bracknell Bees
George Norcliffe missed a few weeks with injury, but recently returned to the line-up for the Bison and is expected to ice against the Phantoms this weekend. He’s had a mixed bag against the Phantoms in Peterborough so far this year. On his first visit, he was given a game misconduct penalty after collecting two ten-minute penalties. On his next visit, he scored.
Bison have also added Sam Talbot and Sean Norris to their squad on a permanent basis. The former Slough Jets forwards both made the step up to the NIHL National on a two-way basis, and both are now full time with the Bison.
Sam Smith has missed a couple of recent games through injury and it is not yet known whether he’ll be fit to face the Phantoms at the weekend.
It’s going to be a high tempo, gritty and hardworking weekend and if you want to have success from these games, you have to try to match their intensity. They’re very good at home, they usually come out flying and we know that, they do it to everyone, so we have to be on our “A” game straight away. It’s a tough place to play and you don’t want to start playing in the second period because the game could be over by then. Players and coaches should all be looking forward to it because it’s good competitive hockey.
I think realistically if one team gets four points this weekend it will be give them a good cushion over the other. But there’s no guarantees because this league is so competitive. Neither team could guarantee third place this weekend and Hull are still in the mix as well. But two wins would be a good cushion to go into the last stretch of games.
It’s always good to be in the rhythm of playing competitive games but if we look at the whole league, any game could be like this. The difference is, Basingstoke are one of the teams in the league who will just go non-stop. If you’re three goals up or down, they don’t slow down or stop working. It’s not like last year when there were games which were easier and then the weekend after you’re not at the right compete level, so we need to make sure we just bring our levels of competitiveness, consistently.
If you’d like to travel to Basingstoke on Saturday to support the Phantoms against the Bison, email email@example.com to book your seat on the team bus!
Tickets are selling fast for Saturday’s game in Basingstoke and the away block may not be held back for Phantoms fans. So, if you plan to attend, book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment!
If you can’t make it to the game, match updates will appear on the Phantoms Twitter account – @GoPhantoms.
Tickets to Sunday’s home game against the Bison are available HERE, or from the Planet Ice Box Office upon arrival at the rink. Doors open at 4:30pm, with face off taking place at 5:30pm.
MATCH NIGHT COMPETITIONS
50/50 tickets are £1 for 1, £2 for 3 or £5 for 10. To be entered into the draw to take part in Puck It, simply purchase £5 worth of 50/50 tickets and you’ll be in with a chance of taking part!
This week’s ‘shirt off your back’ is #75 Ross Clarke. Tickets are £1 for 1, £2 for 3 and £5 for 10. Be sure to see one of our ticket sellers to be in with a chance to win!