SWINDON & RAIDERS – WEEKEND PREVIEW

SWINDON & RAIDERS – WEEKEND PREVIEW

We look forward to the weekend ahead as the Phantoms take on the Swindon Wildcats away from home (6:15pm) before the Raiders come to Peterborough for the first time this season on Sunday (5:30pm)

PHANTOMS TEAM NEWS

Gareth O’Flaherty is set to make his Phantoms debut against the Wildcats on Saturday night before his home debut on Sunday against the Raiders. The 29-year-old centreman is expected to feature for at least the next two weeks. 

Scott Robson and Jarvis Hunt will both miss out through injury. Joe Gretton will deputise for Robson in defence, whilst O’Flaherty steps into the position vacated by Hunt. Will Weldon will ice on Saturday, but then misses the following three games due to personal commitments.

Ryan Bainborough also misses out due to the injury he sustained in Bracknell last week. Luke Clark will back up Jordan Marr in Swindon on Saturday and Jack Peacock will be the Phantoms backup goalie on Sunday night. 

SWINDON WILDCATS

Swindon are the league’s in form team with eight consecutive wins meaning four, four-point weekends in a row. They sit top of the table, two points ahead of the Telford Tigers. They have a 100% record on home ice so far this term and have scored more goals than any other team with 68 goals in 14 games. They have the best defensive record in the league with 36 goals conceded in their opening 14 games. 

Team News

In Aaron Nell, Tomasz Malasinski and Max Birbraer, Swindon have the most potent goal scoring line in the entire league. The three forwards have 36 goals between them already, over half of their whole team’s goal total (68). 

Malasinski is the top points scorer in the league with 12 goals and 25 assists for 37 points in 14 games. Nell is second with 16+16 for 32 points in 14 games. It is unclear as to whether Birbraer will play, however, having missed the Cats’ win over the MK Lightning last Sunday. 

Former Phantom Eddie Bebris is likely to feature against his old side, whilst import forward Tyler VanKleef remains out through injury. Saturday also sees the Marr brothers go head to head once again, Jordan Marr will play for the Phantoms, whilst Renny Marr will be the backstop for the Cats. 

Sam Bullas is the Swindon captain, and is supported by two of the most experienced players in the league. Neil Liddiard and Stevie Whitfield bring a wealth of experience to the Cats line up and both wear the ‘A’s’ for Nell’s team. 

Opposition Bench

Former Great Britain International, Aaron Nell, is enjoying his fourth season as the player coach of the Swindon Wildcats. The former Sheffield Steeler began his career in Swindon, his local side, before stepping up to play in the Elite League for both the Steelers and Coventry Blaze. He’s also Slava Koulikov’s assistant coach with the GB U20 side. 

RAIDERS

The eighth place Raiders are making their first visit to Planet Ice Peterborough of the season on Sunday night. They’re one of just two teams who haven’t yet played a period of overtime this season, with five wins and eight losses on their record. 

Last Sunday saw them claim both points against the Bracknell Bees in a 6-5 win. They play against the Sheffield Steeldogs on home ice on Saturday, before their visit to Peterborough on Sunday. 

Team News

Blaho Novak and Jake Sylvester lead the way in the scoring charts for the Raiders this season. Both forwards have 14 points from 13 games so far. Former Phantoms import, Erik Piatak, makes his return to Peterborough as the newest member of the Raiders team. He replaced Marek Malinsky on their roster and has two assists in three games so far. 

Ross Connolly will miss the game due to a serious injury he sustained in Swindon last week. He has had an operation and we wish him all the best for a full and speedy recovery. 

Raiders’ backup goalie, Brad Windebank, is also injured, and will miss the trip to Peterborough. He’ll be replaced by either Thomas Adams or Greg Blais. Blais spent a short amount of time with the Phantoms in 2014/15. Michael Gray is expected to get the start between the pipes, with either Adams or Blais backing him up. 

Opposition Bench

33-year-old Sean Easton is in his third season as the Head Coach of the Raiders. He spent all but two years of his playing days in Chelmsford, his hometown side. He’s the current Head Coach of the Great Britain U18 side. 

SLAVA SAYS

I don’t believe it was a 5-0 game last time in Swindon. It was still close with a few minutes left. We put them under a lot of pressure but once they got the third goal, we had a mountain to club. The game was close until the end despite the score. It’s not as if we were 5-0 down in the middle of the second period, we were in the game until the end. 

Aaron Nell spoke last year about ‘stopping the Peterborough train’ and this year it’s up to us and the other teams to try and stop Swindon. There’s a lot of things you need to go your way if you’re going to win. But if we bring the levels of performance and competitiveness we had last weekend and get a bit of sportsmanship luck, we’ll give ourselves a chance. 

They’re number one in the league on the PP and PK at home. I don’t think they’ve conceded a goal on the PK at home. Staying out of the box will be hugely important to get a result on Saturday. If you’re going to play the team who’s number one on PP and PK you have to understand that they’re huge factors and make sure we stay out of the box. 

It was an unusual game in Romford a few weeks ago. A minimum of 40-45 minutes was played using special teams and they decided the outcome of the game. That game can’t be replicated for many reasons. Based on games against them in the last two years, they’re always tough to play against. We’ve lost a few games against them home and away in the last couple of years because when they play, they really play and can beat anyone on their day. They proved that by beating Hull and Swindon, so we have to be at our best to beat them. 

Refereeing is important. Looking at last weekend, I thought the refs had a decent game but then the last call they made decided the outcome of the game. But we’re all human and we all make mistakes. I think we need to look at the bigger picture, DOPS in the Elite League gives an opportunity for the league and referees to review and make the right decision after what happened. I strongly believe something like this needs to be done because the league is improving from where it was two years ago, but there’s still room to improve and it would help to eradicate some of the dirtiness in the league and would drive up the standard of games. It helps reduce the situations that no one wants to see, like injuries. It’s not the referees that need to improve, it’s the structure off the ice to support them and make sure the right outcomes are reached. 

We’re all for a physical game and if fighting is needed, if it’s a proper fight and both guys want to go then it’s not a problem. But there’s a line between that and what happens quite often now, and that’s where video reviews would help. 

TICKET NEWS

If you’d like to travel to Swindon on Saturday (6:15pm face off) to support the Phantoms in their battle with the Wildcats, email travel@gophantoms.co.uk to book your seat on the team bus. If you can’t make it to the game, full match updates will be found, as always, on the @GoPhantoms Twitter page. 

For tickets to the home game against Raiders on Sunday (5:30pm face off), click HERE, or purchase your tickets from the Planet Ice Box Office upon arrival to the rink. 

MATCH NIGHT COMPETITIONS

50/50 tickets are £1 for 1, £2 for 3 and £5 for 10. To be in with a chance of playing Puck It, simply purchase £5 worth of 50/50 tickets to be entered into the draw to participate! 

Shirt off your back this week is #77 Martins Susters. Tickets are £1 for 1, £2 for 3 and £5 for 10 – be sure to see one of our match night ticket sellers to be in with a chance of winning Martins’ jersey! 

REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY 

We would like to invite members of the military to the match against the Raiders free of charge to show our appreciation of the fantastic jobs they do ensuring the safety of our country. If you are an active member of the military, simply bring your valid military ID and you will gain access for free. 

In addition to this, we’d also like to encourage all servicemen and women to wear their uniforms to the match against the Raiders.

Julian Bright of the Stamford Brass Band will be playing The Last Post on the Bugle before the game. We will also have a minute silence before the National Anthem. 

MOVEMBER 

The Phantoms players and staff are taking part in Movember to raise money and awareness for mental health and suicide prevention in men. You’ll be able to see the progress of their moustaches at each game throughout the month as they try to raise at least £500 for charity. Please click HERE to donate! 

GO PHANTOMS!