As the NIHL National Cup Semi-Final draws ever closer, we caught up with Phantoms Assistant Coach, Jason Buckman, to get his thoughts on a tough test against the Hull Pirates.

Thursday’s trip to Hull gives the Phantoms a chance to turn their focus away from the league, where the Phantoms haven’t been in the kind of form they’d like. But Buckman is aware of the positive impact a good result could have on the rest of the season.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a welcome distraction, but it gives the guys a chance to get into a cup final for the first piece of silverware which will put us in good stead for the remainder of the year to finish the regular season strong and be ready for playoffs.” Buckman said. 

And after last season’s success, with three trophies, Buckman believes the team just need to keep doing the same as they did back then, and more success could follow. 

“I don’t think we need to do anything differently, we are virtually the same team, with the same team ethos and mentality to do a job game in game out.  If anything with the league being a lot tighter this year and teams recognising we are tough team to beat on our night, all teams work that much harder to beat us.” Said the Phantoms Assistant Coach. 

And Buckman is keen to take the positives from the previous two performances away in Hull.

“Our last two visits there our performances have been really positive. It’s a cup semi-final first leg so a good solid away game with good defence will the key to bring the game back to Peterborough!” Buckman said. 

One of the keys to the Phantoms success last term was the ability to keep games close after the first leg. Slava Koulikov’s team showed the resilience and determination to make sure they gave themselves a chance in the second leg of all of their cup ties, and more of the same would be good for Phantoms and Buckman. 

Buckman said: “The tie is over 120 minutes, so the game won’t be lost in the first 60, that’s for sure. The guys will be eager to put in a solid performance in preparation for the second leg. It’s certainly a game that both teams will want to keep tight either way with another 60 minutes to come.”

The Pirates currently sit in fifth in the league standings, despite being touted by many as one of the favourites for the league title. Similarly, to Phantoms, Hull have been missing a number of players through injuries so far this term and are now beginning to receive some of those back, so they’re definitely not a team who should be taken lightly by anyone up and down the league. 

“Hull have a lot of experience in their team, and the guys coming back do strengthen them. We have not seen them when they have been short staffed so it’s difficult to comment on the games they have lost. But I think we can fully expect them to be higher up than they are now, come the playoffs.” Buckman said. 

And Buckman is certainly excited for the occasion, with the prospect of another cup final in the offing. He’s also hoping the team can win another trophy for the captain, James Ferrara, who retires at the end of the season.

“It’s what the guys play for, and the coaching team want to achieve. There is no doubt that there is no better reward for the hard work the guys put in, than winning a trophy. With it being Jimmy’s last year, I’m sure he will want the best from the team to push for trophies for the rest of the year, whatever the competition!” Buckman concluded. 

If you’d like to travel to Hull on Thursday to support the Phantoms, please email travel@gophantoms.co.uk for more information and to book your place on the bus. Doors will open at 6:30pm with face off at 7:30pm. 

If you can’t make it to the game, full match updates will be on the Phantoms Twitter account, @GoPhantoms.