Phantoms defenceman Joe Gretton looks ahead to the weekend’s games and reflects on the season so far as the halfway point in his first season at the club rapidly approaches.
On Saturday, the Phantoms are the away team in their home rink. With the Leeds Chiefs’ rink not being open yet, they’ve been forced to play their home games elsewhere. So, Phantoms will have the unique experience of being the visitors in their own barn. Gretton believes being at home will help the preparations, despite being classed as the away side.
“I think if anything it helps the preparations, there’s a lot of really superstitious boys on the team so I’m sure being in familiar surroundings will help, and we’d rather them have to do the pre-game travel than us. In terms of the game it can’t be a bad thing having the great fans behind us and we’ve been pretty tough to beat in our own gaff this year.” Gretton said.
The Phantoms ran out 4-2 winners in their only match against the Chiefs so far and Gretton is expecting another difficult game on Saturday night.
“It’s another tough one, they’re a well drilled team with a couple of top players. They have probably the second-best goalie in the league behind Marrsy as well so that will be fun to watch those two go head to head. We know what we have to do though and if we come at 100%, I have no doubt we will grab the W.” said Gretton.
Sunday presents Phantoms with their first trip of the season to Telford. Tom Watkins’ side have surprised many so far this term and currently sit top of the league table. They, like Phantoms, have already qualified for the knockout stages of the cup, but Sunday’s game is vital for both sides with top spot in the cup group still up for grabs.
Gretton said: “Telford are another tough team, there wasn’t much talk about them over the summer it seemed, but they’ve made a couple of good signings over the summer and have come out flying. But we know we are more than capable of winning against them from when we played them earlier in the year, I still think we were unlucky to lose that one. We are high on confidence, so we expect another win from ourselves Sunday.”
After spending last season with the Nottingham Lions, Gretton initially joined the Phantoms 2 team, before signing a permanent two-way deal with Phantoms 1. He has featured for Phantoms 1 every week since the first pre-season friendly against MK Thunder, and he has enjoyed his time in Phantoms colours so far.
“Personally, I’ve had a great time, I’ve really enjoyed learning from Slava, Bucker and Norts, as well as senior guys like Robbie and Welds. I feel as if I’m pretty comfortable with the systems and stuff now so I’m playing better with more things starting to come automatically, rather than having to think about where I need to be in each situation. I finally got rid of the doughnuts last weekend as well which was nice. As a team I think we have really been playing well these last few weeks, we weren’t good enough last Saturday but if you take that game out of the equation our last few weekends have been really good performances. We’ve proved we can hang with the best in the league so now it’s about taking that confidence into every game and climbing the table. It’s really exciting to make the semi-final of the cup as well, it’s so much fun to be a part of big games, the fans always come out in force and I’ve never won a senior trophy, so this is my first crack at one. I can’t wait for the rest of the season!” said the Phantoms defenceman.
The Phantoms have been plagued by injury since the start of the season and have had a shortage of defenceman for the last few games, with injuries to Scott Robson and Bradley Bowering. Gretton knows it’s not ideal to have so many players injured, but also thinks the rest of the team have pulled together well in the absence of their teammates.
“Obviously it’s not the way you want it to happen with boys being injured but It’s been great in a way, everyone loves ice time. It’s the best way to improve, it’s always good to get into the game early as well. You definitely feel it on the Monday morning, though!” Gretton said.
With Saturday’s ‘away’ game being played in our own rink, there is no bus travel for this fixture. The game isn’t covered by season tickets, but season ticket holders will receive discounted entry to the game. For more information including ticket prices, click HERE!
There will be no live stream on Saturday night, so the best place to catch the action is at the rink, or on Twitter @GoPhantoms, where live match updates will run as normal.