Raiders and Bracknell are the next opponents for the Peterborough DALROD Phantoms, as they look to return to winning ways.
PHANTOMS TEAM NEWS
Phantoms will be without Tom Norton and Gareth O’Flaherty this weekend. Norton has been playing with a knock but will sit out this weekend as a precaution. O’Flaherty was injured in Basingstoke last weekend and faces a few weeks on the sidelines.
Scott Robson has skated in the last couple of weeks and has a chance of featuring at the weekend. The 24-year-old hasn’t played since the start of November and, even if he doesn’t feature this weekend, he is edging closer to a return to the line-up.
Phantoms and Slava Koulikov will be hoping the ‘SMS line’ of Martins Susters, Corey McEwen and Petr Stepanek can return to the kind of form they showed earlier in the season. All three have had spells out injured since the start of the year and they will be looking to increase their production now they are all back in the team. They scored seven of the ten goals Phantoms put past the Raiders back in November.
Raiders it in 8th place with 11 wins from 31 games so far this term. They sit on 25 points, level with Bracknell who are 9th. They have the second highest penalty minute total in the league, with 702. Only MKL have more, with 761.
Raiders were recently boosted in the goaltending department with the arrival of Ethan James. He has been the starting goalie for the Raiders in the last few weeks, with Michael Gray’s return from injury bolstering the team further. James did concede 14 goals in two games last week, so the fight is on for the starting berth this weekend.
Former Phantom, Erik Piatak, suffered a night of ill-discipline in Swindon last Saturday. He picked up 32 penalty minutes, which included a game misconduct for receiving two ten-minute penalties. He responded on Sunday night, posting one goal and one assist in a 10-6 win over the Leeds Chiefs.
Jake Sylvester, Blaho Novak and Lukas Sladkovsky have been in form for the Raiders of late. Sylvester got 2+0, Novak 2+2 and Sladkovsky 2+3 in last Sunday’s win over Leeds.
The Raiders also recently signed Daniel Fuller from Aberdeen Lynx. The defenceman is now in their line up and is expected to play against the Phantoms on Saturday night.
Callum Wells, Mason Webster, Greg Blais, Callum Burnett and Jack Flynn all missed last weekend. Brad Windebank and Ross Connolly are both out with long term injuries.
Sean Easton, in his third year with the Raiders, is also the GBU18 Head Coach – a role he has also held now for three years. Easton is the man who selected Brad Bowering and Jarvis Hunt in his World Junior Championship squad.
The 9th placed Bracknell Bees are currently on a two-game losing streak, having lost 5-2 to Leeds and 5-4 to Milton Keynes Lightning, last weekend. They face a trip to the Link Centre to take on the Swindon Wildcats on Saturday, before they welcome Phantoms to the Hive on Sunday.
Dominik Gabaj was a nominee for the NIHL National Player of the Month for December after his solid start to life as a Bracknell Bee. The award was won by MKL’s prolific forward, Liam Stewart, who pipped Gabaj and Alex Graham of the Steeldogs, to the award.
The Bees will be without the services of Zack Milton and Caly Robertson this weekend, with the pair away on International duty with GBU20’s. Milton is among the Bees top point scorers this season, whilst Robertson has enjoyed a productive start to life at the Hive, having moved from the Milton Keynes Lightning earlier in the season. Milton scored in regulation time for GB20’s against Spain on Friday, before later netting a penalty shot in the shootout.
Vanya Antonov is unlikely to feature for the Bees, with Streatham playing the Bracknell Hornets away on Saturday and Slough Jets at home on Sunday night.
Danny Milton didn’t ice for the Bees last weekend, so the backup for the Bees was 17-year-old goalie, Rory Edwards. Even if Milton does return to the line-up, Adam Goss is expected to get the start. Goss was in fine form in the most recent fixture between the Bees and Phantoms.
Doug Sheppard brings a wealth of experience in British hockey to the Bees bench. He has experience in both the Elite League and the second division, whilst his coaching career has been mainly in the second division. He left the Basingstoke Bison a couple of years ago to take the reins at the Hive.
We know there’s a big game not far away, but we have to look at this weekend first and we’ll make sure we do. We haven’t won in 2020 yet and I’d like my team to improve their consistency, in all aspects of their games to make sure we get back to winning ways. That includes their compete level, their sticking to the game plan, preparation, every aspect of our game needs to be more consistent. That’s what i expect to see from my team, what’s done is done and we’re looking to Saturday and then Sunday. But consistency is the key and with that, I think we have a chance to pick up wins.
I think if we go by the last home game when we won 6-4, we need to correct our compete level from that game. It’s nice when you get 3 or 4 power play goals, but I think 5 on 5, we didn’t compete hard enough, we didn’t win the battles, we didn’t engage quickly enough. Any team can beat any team in this league but if we compete well then, we’ll have a good chance
Bracknell are similar to Raiders; they work hard, and they have a clear way of playing their hockey so this weekend for me is just about us getting back to our values and game plans and tactics that have made us successful in the last couple of years. We need to focus on getting the job done on Saturday and then we can look into Sunday after that.
For tickets to Saturday’s home game against the Raiders, click HERE, or purchase them from the Planet Ice Box Office upon arrival at the rink. Doors open at 6pm, with face off at 7pm.
If you would like to travel to Bracknell on Sunday night to support the Phantoms against the Bees, email email@example.com. Face off at the Hive on Sunday is at 5:30pm.
If you are unable to attend the game, full match updates will be found on Twitter, @GoPhantoms.
MATCH NIGHT COMPETITIONS
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This week’s ‘shirt off your back’ is #45 Callum Buglass. Tickets are £1 for 1, £2 for 3 and £5 for 10. Be sure to see one of our ticket sellers to be in with a chance to win!