Phantoms defenceman Joe Gretton has enjoyed his involvement with the Phantoms first team in pre-season. The 22-year-old is signed with the Phantoms 2 team but has impressed in his five appearances on Slava Koulikov’s first team roster.
Gretton played last season with the Nottingham Lions, who lost all 36 of their games in the NIHL1 North. But Joe made the move to the Phantoms in the summer and hasn’t looked back since signing on the dotted line.
“I’ve loved every minute so far; everyone’s been really welcoming, and I already knew a few of the boys so it was fairly easy to slot in. It’s obviously a different standard than what I played last year and everyone has took time out to help me where needed and given me little tips and tricks which I’m grateful for. It’s been nice to chip in with a few points as well and to actually win a couple of games!” Gretton said.
With Robbie Ferrara missing last weekend due to injury, Joe iced as a top 6 defenceman against the Bison. Despite a slow start in Basingstoke on Saturday, Gretton believes the Phantoms fully deserved to claim the Billy Glover Memorial Cup after Sunday night’s display.
“I thought we really showed up on Sunday and gave a solid performance for the full 60 minutes. We were a little slow out of the gates on Saturday, so it was good that we were straight at it on the Sunday and we all chipped in and looked after each other when needed and scored some nice goals as well.” Said Gretton.
Gretton is no stranger to dropping his gloves, having had 9 fights throughout the course of last season. He admitted he would have liked to get involved in the physical side of Sunday’s clash with the Basingstoke Bison.
“Yeah I would have liked to get involved. Those games are definitely fun to play in. It fires everyone up when your team mates get involved, like Taylor dropping them, the Polly brothers had a little tear up, Longer even won a fight with his stick still in his hand so the boys got a pretty good laugh out of that too! They’re just exciting games to be a part of.” Gretton said.
After his pre-season performances with the Phantoms, Gretton is keen to build on what he’s done so far and is hoping to continue making an impression on the Phantoms 1 coaching staff.
That [stepping up to Phantoms 1 permanently] is obviously the goal, I’m just trying to keep learning and contribute whenever I’m needed and be reliable to the team. I’m just trying to get enjoyment out of hockey again, keep learning and enjoy the process. I’m already loving it so it should be a good season. Both Phantoms and Phantoms 2 are looking strong this year, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be hoping for a trophy or two somewhere along the line!” said Gretton.
Phantoms Head Coach Slava Koulikov has been pleased with Gretton’s performances on the ice, and his attitude off it, during the pre-season. Joe will continue to train full time with the Phantoms 1 team and will ice with Phantoms 2. However, with Phantoms 2 not playing this weekend, Gretton could be back in the Phantoms 1 line up for the opening weekend of the league campaign, home and away against the Bracknell Bees.
You can get tickets for Sunday’s home opener against the Bees HERE!