Phantoms goalie, Jordan Marr, believes he and his team mates will take a lot of confidence into the second half of the season, following big wins against the Basingstoke Bison and Swindon Wildcats.
Despite being 2-0 down in Basingstoke on Saturday night, the Phantoms claimed the points by notching five unanswered goals to defeat the Bison 5-2 on their own ice. Duncan Speirs was the star of the show, netting a hat trick, whilst Marr shut the Bison out for over 40 minutes of the game.
Sunday night saw the Swindon Wildcats visit Planet Ice Peterborough, for a game which saw the Phantoms shutout the high flying Cats, and pick up a 5-0 win. Marr was pleased with the teams performance across both games.
“In Basingstoke after a so-so start, I thought the guys did a great job fighting back. We stuck to the system Slava set out for us, limited scoring opportunities for Basingstoke and made the most of our opportunities offensively. What contributed to our success the most was our willingness to compete all game and we needed that again against Swindon. Like Saturdays game, offensively guys found a way to score, whether it was a pretty or greasy goal. Defensively, guys allowed me to see the puck, clear any rebounds and limit high % scoring chances which helps make my job so much easier.” Marr said.
It was a huge improvement on the previous weekend, where the short benched Phantoms fell to big losses against Telford and the Raiders. A mix of injuries and COVID issues meant there were many senior debuts for some of the Phantoms NIHL and Junior players, but the results weren’t where they wanted to be.
Marr knows that weekend wasn’t good enough, but was pleased with the bounce back ability shown by himself and his teammates as they cruised to a four point weekend.
“Last weekend wasn’t great performance wise for some guys, but when you’re goalie, it doesn’t give you a chance to stay in contention and it makes it difficult. I felt that I had let the team down last week so I wanted to and had to be better this weekend. We also looked a lot hungrier around the net this weekend and it felt like we went to the house and shot with purpose.”
Shutouts are hard to come by for any team at any level of ice hockey, but the Phantoms worked hard to earn one on Sunday night. Marr made 41 saves, whilst his defence threw themselves in front of the puck to block shots countless times.
And Marr was keen to acknowledge the efforts of the defence, helping him on their way to a shutout.
“I think a shutout is more of a team accolade than a goalie specific one. When the guys do a great job in our D-Zone, it makes the goalies job a lot easier and I think it something we’ve gradually improved on this season, so the credit should go to the team. Getting a 4 point weekend was a massive step for us and something I’m happy to be a part of.”
It’s been a tough year for the Phantoms so far, as everyone knows. Slava Koulikov hasn’t been able to name his full roster for a single game this term, but Marr is confident weekends like this, alongside the return of players from injury and COVID, could provide the springboard for a strong second half of the season, leading into the playoffs.
“I think it’ll definitely give us more belief. To shutout out the league leaders at home and win on the road (for the first time since November I think) in a difficult barn like Basingstoke are things we should be proud of. With guys coming back from injury/COVID, an additional import and guys improving and finding consistency, we should hopefully become a team that’s difficult to play against every weekend.”
And he was keen to praise the Phantoms fans, who have stuck by the team through thick and thin following the big return to the ice this season.
“While the results perhaps haven’t been as consistent as everyone would like, I think the fans realise that this year has been a bit of miniature rebuild with a part of our core being replaced. They’ve been behind us all the way this year and I know that management, staff and all the players are thankful for all their support this year.”
Marr and his teammates are back on home ice on Saturday night as the Bees visit Planet Ice Peterborough for a 7pm face off. Tickets are available HERE or from the Planet Ice Box Office upon arrival at the rink.
Then, a trip to Telford awaits the Phantoms next Sunday. Match updates will be available on our Twitter account, @GoPhantoms!