The Phantoms return to two game weekends from now until the end of the season, with the Sheffield Steeldogs and Swindon Wildcats up next for Slava Koulikov’s side.
PHANTOMS TEAM NEWS
Joe Gretton and Ross Clarke are both expected for ice for Phantoms 2 on Saturday night, as they take on the Bracknell Wasps at Planet Ice Peterborough. Phantoms 2 currently sit in third place in the NIHL2 Wilkinson conference, one point behind the league leading Haringey Huskies.
Slava Koulikov is hoping to have the remainder of his squad all available for the weekend. Gareth O’Flaherty returned to the Phantoms line up last weekend after a fairly lengthy layoff due to injury, whilst Jarvis Hunt has also returned from injury in the recent games.
Jordan Marr could return between the pipes this weekend. He faces hot competition from Ryan Bainborough who made 45 saves and only conceded once in a man of the match performance against the Raiders last weekend.
Sheffield enjoyed a huge win over the Hull Pirates last Sunday as they returned home with a 9-4 win. They come into Saturday’s clash with the Phantoms in fine form.
Ben Morgan has added Nathan Ripley and Ryan Johnson to his squad in recent weeks. Ripley is a 17-year-old who has stepped up from the lower and youth levels of hockey in Sheffield, and also has two years of experience in playing in the Canadian junior leagues.
Johnson returned to the Steeldogs after around nine years away from the club. He last suited up for the Steeldogs in the 2010/11 season and has spent the last seven and a half years with the Sutton Sting.
Kieran Brown is a longer-term absentee for the Steeldogs but looks as though he may be the only player to miss out on the weekend.
The Steeldogs are in very good form of late and come into the game against Phantoms with a five-match winning streak.
Steeldogs’ Last 5
W – 4-1 v Leeds Chiefs (A)
W – 4-2 v Telford Tigers (A)
W – 4-3 v Hull Pirates (H)
W – 5-3 v Raiders (A)
W – 9-4 v Hull Pirates (A)
The Swindon Wildcats had been enduring a difficult spell before last weekend. They ended a run of one win in five with a four-point weekend, taking two wins in two nights against the Basingstoke Bison.
Renny Marr is back between the pipes after an injury which kept him out for a couple of weeks. Tyler Perre iced a couple of times, whilst Coventry Blaze goalie Jordan Hedley also featured for Aaron Nell’s side in the absence of Renny.
The Wildcats had a full roster to choose from last weekend and it looks as though the same will happen this week. They welcome the league leading Telford Tigers to the Link Centre on Saturday night for the first game of what Aaron Nell has described as the most important weekend of the season so far.
The Wildcats look to have returned to form at an ideal time for Aaron Nell as they saw off the Bison twice in two days last week. They had been on a difficult run of results, but they will be hoping last weekend was the turning point as they sit two points behind Telford before this weekend.
Wildcats’ last 5
L – 7-6 v Peterborough Phantoms (A)
OTW – 5-4 v Raiders (H)
L – 3-2 v Bracknell Bees (A)
W – 5-3 v Basingstoke Bison (A)
OTW – 8-7 v Basingstoke Bison (H)
Sheffield have done well in the last month or so, so it’s two teams in form, two teams who are hungry to win and I expect a very tough game for us. Our last two games were really tough games against Bracknell and Raiders; Ryan came up with some big saves last Sunday and it came down to the small margins. If you look at Leeds since they got into their rink, they’ve started beating the top teams. Anyone really can beat anyone in this league.
You could say it’s better to play Sheffield now because they’re in form and there’s no room for complacency, but every game is tough, and it comes down to the preparations, mindset and application. If the mindset is that it’ll be an easy game, in any game, you’ll lose it. Tactically, everything should be in place, it’s now about the mindset of the players going into the weekend and I think that’s the most important thing right now.
The next two weeks will really paint the picture of who’s in the title race. Telford are in Swindon tomorrow and then Swindon come to us on Sunday. Then we go to Telford next week. So, they’re all big games and after the next two weekends we can really sit down and analyse who is in the title race.
There’s only one league winner and you always want to win. The rest doesn’t matter too much because it doesn’t give you any advantage with the playoffs being a group stage where anyone can beat anyone. I’m just thinking one game at a time as always. We’re outsiders, three weeks ago we’d been written off and now we have an outside chance, but in two weeks’ time we could be in it or out of it. The best way to do things is one game at a time.
The supporters’ coach for Saturday’s trip to Sheffield is sold out. If you cannot make other arrangements to be at the game, full match updates will be on our Twitter account, @GoPhantoms. Doors open at 6:45pm at Ice Sheffield, ahead of a 7:30pm face off.
Tickets to Sunday’s match against the Swindon Wildcats can be found HERE! You can also purchase your tickets from the Planet Ice Box Office upon arrival at the rink on Sunday evening. Doors will open at 4:30pm, with face off at 5:30pm.
MATCH NIGHT COMPETITIONS
50/50 tickets are £1 for 1, £2 for 3 or £5 for 10. To be entered into the draw to take part in Puck It, simply purchase £5 worth of 50/50 tickets and you’ll be in with a chance of taking part!
This week’s ‘shirt off your back’ is #23 Brad Bowering. 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!