Phantoms defenceman Tom Norton, sponsored by Millfield Auto Parts, is looking forward to a trip to the table topping Sheffield Steeldogs, before rivalries are renewed with the Milton Keynes Lightning on Sunday night.
Last Saturday saw the Phantoms lose 5-2 to the Basingstoke Bison. Norton admits he was frustrated by the result but doesn’t feel the team are far away from getting results on the road.
“It was a little bit frustrating because the game in Basingstoke was right there for the taking for both teams and unfortunately for us, we ended up on the wrong side of the result. I think we are right there though; we’ve got to correct a few things and be a little more consistent, but, a four-point weekend is not far away – I can feel it. That said, in this new league, I think four-point weekends are going to be tough for the whole league as the competition is so close and any team can beat anyone on a given night.” Norton said.
The Sheffield Steeldogs have won five of their six games so far this term and sit top of the NIHL National. Norton knows it will be a tough test for the Phantoms, but believes consistency will be key.
“We have got to be more consistent with our play and not have periods of the game where we are switching off and putting ourselves into a hole, where we are then chasing the game. They (Sheffield) are looking like a very strong outfit. Ben Morgan has clearly recruited well and kept the backbone of his team that have been so successful over the past two seasons. We need to be ready for them because they aren’t in the position they are in by accident.” Said Norton.
The Milton Keynes Lightning dropped out of the Elite League at the end of last season after finishing bottom of the table in 2018/19. Lightning won just 15 of their 60 games and have undergone a change of ownership in the off season. Norton is expecting the Phantoms and Lightning rivalry to continue from where it left off before they made their initial step up to the EIHL.
“I am expecting us to pick up right where we left off after that final season in the EPL. Close, fast tough fought games, a proper local derby match. I love winning anyway, no matter who it is against. But it’s always nice to get one up on your local rivals definitely and I am sure they would feel the same way.” Said the Phantoms defenceman.
Fixtures between the Phantoms and Lightning are often physical affairs, and Norton is expecting more of the same as rivalries are set to be renewed.
“I think the season as a whole has started off physical, and I don’t see that changing throughout the year. Hopefully it will be fast, physical and exciting hockey for the fans all season.” Norton said.
Norton returned to the Phantoms over the summer in his joint role of player and defence coach. He explains what his role entails:
“It’s a little more responsibility along with the playing side and something I would maybe one day like to progress in. I basically take care of the D, working with Slava & Jason on ways in which we can improve as a D core. Whether that is drills in training, the D pairings, showing the guys videos and explaining what we are doing well and what we need to improve on and basically being available for the guys to lean on and ask questions.” Norton said.
If you’d like to travel to Sheffield on Saturday to support the Phantoms, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your seat on the team bus. Alternatively, if you’re unable to attend the game, follow @GoPhantoms on Twitter for full match updates.
For tickets to Sunday’s local derby against the Milton Keynes Lightning, click HERE! Tickets can also be purchased from the Planet Ice Box Office upon arrival to the rink.