It’s familiar foe for the Phantoms this week as they travel to Bracknell to take on the Bees on Saturday (6:15pm) before the Basingstoke Bison come to town on Sunday night (5:30pm).
PHANTOMS TEAM NEWS
Slava Koulikov now has the majority of his squad back from injury. Jarvis Hunt will miss the weekend and is expected to be the only player who is unavailable. Corey McEwen played last weekend and skated this week, so is expected to be in the Phantoms line-up once again this weekend.
Joe Gretton will be part of the Phantoms squad once again, with the Phantoms 2 team not in action this weekend.
Koulikov is planning to start Ryan Bainborough in goal in Bracknell on Saturday, with Jordan Marr likely to play in Sunday’s game against the Bison.
The Bracknell Bees currently sit 7th in the NIHL National with 11 points from 11 matches. Last week, they ended Telford’s unbeaten run, claiming an OT win against Tom Watkins’ side, before losing 3-2 against the Raiders on Sunday.
Gareth O’Flaherty departed the Hive this week. The forward’s work commitments meant he was only able to attend one training session per week, which both the player and his team think meant they didn’t see the best of his abilities. They parted ways during the week, and he won’t feature on Saturday.
Ivan Antonov has started the season well for the Bees with four goals and two assists in four games. He is on a two-way with Streatham but could feature for the Bees with Streatham not in action until Sunday when they take on former Phantom Dan Lane and his Haringey Huskies teammates.
Import forwards Roman Malinik and Robin Kovar are both likely to play. Malinik is the Bees’ top point scorer so far this term with seven goals and four assists for 11 points in 11 games. Kovar missed the start of the season, including the opening weekend double header with the Phantoms, but has posted three goals and two assists since his return to the line-up.
Ryan Webb scored twice last week as the Bees fell to the Raiders, and he’ll be looking to continue his form against the Phantoms on Saturday night.
Doug Shephard is in his second season as the Head Coach of the Bracknell Bees. The Canadian has a wealth of experience in British hockey at both Elite level and the second tier. He guided his side to the NIHL1 South Playoff Final last season, where they lost to the Phantoms. They also earned their place at the NIHL Final Four weekend, where they lost in the semi-finals to eventual winners, Hull Pirates.
Ashley Tait’s Basingstoke Bison sit in sixth in the table, level on points with the Bees, with 11 points from 11 games. They only contested one game last week – a 5-3 home loss to the table topping Swindon Wildcats.
It looks like the Bison will only be missing one of their core players. Richard Bordowski is struggling with a hand injury which is likely to keep him out for a few weeks. Tait has brought in Marek Malinsky – recently released by Raiders – as injury cover for Bordowski, and he is expected to be in their line up this weekend.
Adam Harding will have enjoyed Bison’s defeat to Swindon more than others last week. He scored twice and assisted once against the side who released him mid-way through last season.
The Bison have five players who have past the 10-point mark in their opening 11 games. These include player coach Ashley Tait and import forward Michal Klejna, who have enjoyed success on the powerplay once again this term.
Alex Mettam has been the preferred choice between the pipes for the Bison so far this term, with Dan Weller-Evans patiently waiting in the wings for his chance to impress.
The Bison bench has a wealth of experience. Tait has over 600 Elite League appearances under his belt, as well as over 100 caps for Great Britain. The 44-year-old is the top point scorer for the Bison so far this season.
Their bench coach is Tony Redmond, the all-time leading appearance maker for the Basingstoke Bison. He iced 530 regular season games, scoring 150 goals and assisting a further 277 for 427 points – a tally of points which also makes him the fourth highest point scorer in Bison history. Redmond is Tait’s assistant, and runs the bench whilst Tait is on the ice.
We all know how Bracknell play, especially at home. We have to match their intensity and competitiveness level; we have to be 100% switched on in the D-zone because their offence is very direct. You can’t fall asleep even for a second because they’ll punish you, so we have to be at our best in the D-zone, manage the neutral zone and obviously score the goals to win the game.
First game of the season in Bracknell we lost, we reviewed it and we know what we have to correct to make sure we don’t have a repeat of the third period we had back then. But it’s been six weeks since that game so we can’t just look at that game, we look at all of the games since, too.
Looking at the last two weeks, we’ve been picking up points but we’re not firing, and our competitiveness levels aren’t where they should be. We have to pick up that level and focus for the full 60 minutes. Because in the 60 minutes at the moment, we have good spells, unbelievable spells, but then also uncharacteristic spells in games which are costing us goals and points. It all starts with giving 110% and doing the little things right, but I think in the last two weeks, we’ve stepped away from that.
Bison are a prime example of a team who compete for the full 60 minutes every night. They’re a team of character, who don’t give up and fight for every puck. We can’t think we’re going to walk in and win, you have to be switched on and match their intensity for the full 60 minutes.
They perform and battle as a team. Look at last year when they had Bordowski out for a while after Christmas. It would have been easy to think they’d lose a few games with one of their main guys out, but they didn’t. They played well and kept in the top three and that’s what I like about their team. They all battle for each other and when you do that, good things come.
For information on how you can travel on the team bus to Bracknell on Saturday, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can’t make it to the game, full match coverage will be on the @GoPhantoms Twitter account.
Tickets to Sunday’s home game against the Basingstoke Bison can be found HERE, or can be purchased from the Planet Ice Box Office upon arrival at the rink on Sunday.
MATCH NIGHT COMPETITIONS
50/50 tickets are £1 for 1, £2 for 3 or £5 for 10. To be in with a chance of playing Puck It, simply buy £5 worth of 50/50 tickets and you’ll be entered into the draw to take part in our newest intermission game!
This week’s ‘shirt off your back’ is #93 Ales Padelek. 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!
The Phantoms players and staff are taking part in Movember to raise money and awareness for mental health and suicide prevention in men. You’ll be able to see the progress of their moustache’s at each game throughout the month as they try to raise at least £500 for charity. Please click HERE to donate!