The second weekend of the NIHL National season sees the Phantoms come up against two familiar opponents. The Phantoms travel to Swindon on Saturday night to take on the Wildcats, before the Basingstoke Bison come to Peterborough on Sunday for a 5:30pm face off.
PHANTOMS TEAM NEWS
Corey McEwen will be absent for the Phantoms due to injury, but Taylor Romeo is expected to return to the line-up after shaking off the shoulder injury which kept him out of last week’s games. Due to commitments outside of hockey, Conor Pollard will not be in the Phantoms line-up this weekend.
Callum Buglass picked up a knock in Bracknell last Saturday but iced on Sunday and is expected to be fine for the coming weekend. Joe Gretton could also be available with Phantoms 2 not in action this weekend.
Aaron Nell’s Wildcats claimed the league title in the NIHL South last year, winning 31 of their 42 regular season games. They had the best attack in the league, scoring 184 goals, and also had the best defence with only 97 goals conceded.
Swindon have retained most of their league winning team from last season. Jan Kostal and Max Birbraer both announced their retirement at the end of last term, but both have now returned to the Wildcats roster for another year. Birbraer is now classed as a British player due to the league rules.
One major loss for Nell and his team was defenceman Sam Jones, who made the step up to the Elite League with the Fife Flyers. The Cats will be without new signing Tyler VanKleef, who misses out due to injury.
The Opposition Bench
29-year-old Nell is the player coach of his local side. The Swindon born forward came through the youth set up at the Link Centre, before moving to the Elite League to play for the Sheffield Steelers and Coventry Blaze. The former Great Britain International is now into his seventh season back with the Cats, and his fourth as coach.
The Bison began the NIHL season with one win and one loss. They beat the Telford Tigers 7-5 on Saturday night, before losing 8-3 to the Raiders on Sunday.
The Bison look as though they will have a full complement of players to choose from for the coming weekend. Richard Bordowski, Michal Klejna and Alex Sampford all scored two goals each on Saturday against the Tigers and will be looking to continue their form into this weekend. The Bison host the Bracknell Bees on Saturday night before their trip to Peterborough on Sunday.
The Bison coaching staff have a decision to make in goal. Alex Mettam played both games last weekend, conceding 13 goals across their two games. 8 of those came on Sunday against the Raiders, who racked up 50 shots on the Bison. Dan Weller-Evans is waiting in the wings and will be hopeful of some ice time this weekend.
The Opposition Bench
Ashley Tait brings his Bison team back to Peterborough just a couple of weeks after the sides met in pre-season. The 44-year-old forward is in his second year as player coach of the Bison, with Scotsman Tony Redmond taking care of the bench duties whilst Tait is on the ice.
“There are no easy weekends this year so the guys will be going into it with the same attitude as the opening weekend. We know Swindon have kept the core of the guys from last year and will be the team to beat again. Swindon is never an easy place to play so the guys will have to be focused and ready to play a full 60 mins to compete.
Also against Bison who we have already played in pre-season the guys know what to expect and be prepared for a battle against a side that is built on work ethic. We have to be mentally prepared for a solid 120 mins of hockey this weekend from the off”
For information on how you can travel to Swindon to support the Phantoms on Saturday, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For tickets to Sunday night’s home game, click HERE, or purchase your tickets upon arrival at the Planet Ice Box Office.
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