The latest round of fixtures in the NIHL National sees the Phantoms travel to take on the Basingstoke Bison on Saturday night (6:30pm), before the Leeds Chiefs visit Planet Ice Peterborough for the first time on Sunday night (5:30pm).
PHANTOMS TEAM NEWS
Corey McEwen will miss another weekend for the Phantoms due to injury. Conor Pollard will miss Saturday’s game, but could be in line for a return to the Phantoms line up on Sunday night.
Joe Gretton and Kieran Raynor will both be part of the Phantoms roster this weekend. With Phantoms 2 again not in action, Gretton and Raynor will travel to Basingstoke on Saturday, and ice once again at home on Sunday. The pair earned rave reviews for their performances against the Bison last week, which saw them both drop the gloves near the end of the game.
Last Sunday saw the Phantoms claim a 5-1 win over the Basingstoke Bison on home ice. This week, it’s a trip to play the 6th placed Bison in their own rink.
It looks as though the Bison will once again have a full set of players to choose from for the weekend’s fixtures.
Ashley Tait’s side haven’t suffered any major injury blows so far this term, which gives the 44-year-old player coach a plenty of options as they look to overturn Sunday’s result in Peterborough. Alex Mettam once again played both games in goal for the Bison last weekend, with Dan Weller-Evans waiting for his opportunity to impress between the pipes.
The Opposition Bench
Tait told the Basingstoke Bison website: “We obviously need to bounce back from the road defeat on Sunday and there’s no better way than coming up against the same opponents. Both teams are evenly matched across their rosters and we expect another hard-fought game against the Phantoms”.
The Chiefs have begun the season with four losses and will travel to Peterborough looking for their first ever win.
Leeds were boosted by the news that goaltender Sam Gospel won’t face a ban after his match penalty for fighting against the Milton Keynes Lightning last week. The call on the ice was that the goalie had punched Lightning forward Rio Grinnell-Parke with his blocker, but video evidence has since disproved this call, and the penalty was downgraded to a minor for roughing.
Chris Sykes left the club this week. The Sheffield born forward didn’t score a point during his four-game spell in Leeds and will be returning to the Billingham Stars for the remainder of the 2019/20 season. Radek Meidl will be looking to continue his early season form – the former MKL man has five goals and three assists in four games, including two against his former employers.
The Leeds side features three former Phantoms – Steve Duncombe, James Archer and Richard Bentham all now turn out for the Chiefs and are in line to face the Phantoms on Sunday night. They are captained by the vastly experienced Luke Boothroyd. Boothroyd brings Elite League and Great Britain experience to the Chiefs blue line. Phantoms fans may remember him most for the nine years he spent with the Manchester Phoenix.
The Opposition Bench
Sam Zajac has taken his first step into coaching with the Chiefs. The 29-year-old was named the player coach of Leeds in the summer after leaving the Whitley Warriors. Formerly of the Basingstoke Bison, Telford Tigers and Swindon Wildcats, Zajac is well known amongst fans of British hockey. He’s another who adds Elite League experience to the Chiefs side, having played for the Newcastle Vipers, Braehead Clan and Manchester Storm. He collected 45 points in 33 games for Whitley last term.
We’re looking for improvement as team. We know every area of our game can be improved. We’re two weeks into the regular season and playing good teams each week, so we should be there or thereabouts with our performances, but we definitely have room to improve in every area. Whether it’s individually, collectively, on the powerplay, penalty kill, in the attacking zone, defensive zone or neutral ice, we know we can improve in every department and that’s what we’ll be looking to do.
Our overall game could be sharper and executed better as a unit. Players are better when they don’t need to think as much, and they can concentrate on the plays we’ve put in place. You’re looking to get the picture clear but at the moment it’s a bit blurry, but slowly getting better and moving in the right direction. You have to believe you can do better and I know we can.
It’s great to see a new team in the league. It’s always exciting for us as an organisation and also for the fans who get to see a new organisation come into our building. It’s hard to give any input on them at the minute – they’re good on paper but we know how difficult it is to build a team from scratch. All of their games so far have been tight affairs and I’m sure Zajac will be looking for the same kind of improvement as we are. It should be an exciting game!
Hopefully our fans can come and support us whilst coming to see the new team. They have an impact on our guys when they’re up on their feet, shouting and cheering, and I’m hoping to see them doing that again this weekend.
For information on how you can travel to Basingstoke to cheer on the Phantoms on Saturday, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can’t make it to Basingstoke, follow @GoPhantoms on Twitter for full match updates.
For tickets to Sunday night’s home game, click HERE, or purchase your tickets upon arrival at the Planet Ice Box Office.
MATCH NIGHT COMPETITIONS
50/50 tickets are priced at £1 for 1, £2 for 3 and £5 for 10.
This week’s ‘shirt off your back’ is #11 Scott Robson’s grey jersey. Tickets are £1 for 1, £2 for 3 and £5 for 10.
See one of our match night ticket sellers to be in with a chance to win!