Phantoms forward Nathan Pollard spoke of his delight at returning for the 2019/20 season and is looking forward to playing in front of the Phantoms fans once again as preparations continue for Wednesday night’s home pre-season opener against the Milton Keynes Thunder.
“It feels great (to be back), I think there is nothing better than playing for the team you grew up admiring. We have signed the same team (plus Conor) as last season and I want to experience the feeling of success we had last season. We have a great coach and we all buy into the system he wants us to play and we got rewarded for that with three trophies, so I’d like to lift another one this season. Plus, it’s always great playing in front of our fans, they really got behind us last year and were pivotal in giving us that extra push over the finish line in some tight games, they are the best fans in the league!” Pollard said.
After a couple of months rest, Pollard began his preparations for the coming season at the start of June and has been putting in the extra hours to improve his fitness as much as he can. He also worked with Jarvis Hunt, Taylor Romeo, Bradley Bowering and Ross Clarke in the off season to help the younger members of the Phantoms squad get in shape for what will be the most testing season of their careers so far.
“I had a really good off season, I started earlier in the summer than I normally do and feel in the best shape I’ve ever been in, so hopefully that transfers onto the ice. I was also responsible for the younger players getting fitter and stronger over the summer, and I’m hoping to see the hard work pay off for them too!” said Pollard.
The Milton Keynes Thunder come to Peterborough on Wednesday (4thSeptember) in the Phantoms’ first pre-season fixture of the year. Antti Kohvakka’s new look Thunder side will be competing in the league below the Phantoms this year, but Pollard feels they will still provide the Phantoms with a good test.
“They are young team and I expect them to work hard and make us work for our chances. I think as a team it’s a case of getting the chemistry built up again, skating away the cobwebs from the summer and a chance to get ready for our game at the weekend against Hull.”
Pollard collected 14 goals and 11 assists in 52 games last term and is looking to improve on those stats as we enter the inaugural season of the NIHL National League. He enjoyed the successes of the team last term and is hoping for more of the same this year.
“I don’t really set any personal aims, you always want to be better than you were the previous season, so I guess that’s probably my personal aim. In terms of team aims, there’s nothing sweeter than success, I would love for us to win another trophy, I think that is a team goal and if we all play to our potential and play like we can, this is achievable.” Pollard said.
“The league looks really strong and there is no clear standout strong team, I think anyone can beat anyone on any night, and there are no easy games this year. I think if you have an off game against anyone you will be punished. It’s gone back to the old EPL format but with more British trained players, which I think is great for development. There are plenty of young emerging British players out there and they will only improve with regular ice time!” he continued.
This season, Nathan will be joined by his brother Conor in the Phantoms team. Conor captained the Phantoms 2 side last season and amassed an impressive 32 goals and 26 assists in 28 games. Nathan and Conor were key members of the Peterborough Islanders treble winning team in 2016/17, before Nathan made the step up to the Phantoms. C.Pollard made his Phantoms 1 debut in the 2010/11 season and has played a handful of games since then. He now steps up on a permanent basis and Nathan is looking forward to teaming up with his twin brother.
“It’s great to have Conor in the team, he is way too good for NIHL2 but unfortunately other commitments stopped him from making the step up, but now the time is right and I think he’ll grab the opportunity with both hands and really thrive in our team this season. He’s technically a very gifted hockey player and I look forward to seeing what he can do to make us even better this season.” Pollard said.
“I’m definitely looking forward to playing with Conor and Welds. Conor is very good on the puck and has a good hockey brain, we have good chemistry and had some very successful seasons together with the Islanders (including the treble winning season) and I’m looking forward to linking up with him again. Welds is the ideal centre, rock solid defensively, good at face-offs but also is also very good offensively, you always feel extra comfort when you have a centre like Welds playing with you.” He concluded.
You can see Nathan and Conor in action for the first time this coming Wednesday (4thSeptember) against the Milton Keynes Thunder. Tickets for the game are just £5 for adults (over 16’s) and £1 for under 16’s. Get your tickets HERE: