A blank weekend but we’ll still keep chasing the Bison

Lloyd Gibson battles for the puck on the boards with Tigers Sam Zajac. Picture: Tom Scott
Lloyd Gibson battles for the puck on the boards with Tigers Sam Zajac. Picture: Tom Scott
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Slava Koulikov has no intention of waving the white flag in the English Premier League title race.

Phantoms have fallen eight points adrift of table-toppers Basingstoke with only eight regular-season fixtures remaining.

They do boast two matches in hand, but will still be reliant on the Bison slipping up if they are to snatch the crown.

Koulikov’s men saw their championship hopes hit by back-to-back defeats last weekend when following up a 4-3 reverse at Swindon with a 6-3 loss on home ice at the hands of outgoing champions Telford.

The Phantoms coach said: “We’re at the stage of the season where we need points and it is obviously disappointing to come out of a weekend with nothing.

“Our performance in Swindon last Saturday night wasn’t that great, but I felt it was there against Telford from every single player.

“We battled hard in every area and were well in the game for most of the 60 minutes.

“We haven’t thought about the title all season. We’ve just concentrated on one game at a time and we’ll continue to do that.

“Of course the fact we lost two games in a row makes things easier for Basingstoke, who have seen their lead over us double.

“It is probably their title to lose from this position, but we will do all we can in our remaining games.

“We have a couple of games in hand and they still have tough ones to play so things could change quickly.”

Phantoms face only one fixture this weekend – a Saturday-night derby at fierce rivals Milton Keynes.

They have failed to win any of their previous five league clashes against the Lightning, but did dump them out of the EPL Cup at the semi-final stage last month.

Leaders Basingstoke also have just one game as they host Telford on Saturday.

Koulikov is sweating on the fitness of import ace Ales Padelek, who missed both games last weekend after being hospitalised with an elbow injury which became infected.

“It is not an injury we expect to keep him out for a long time,” added Koulikov. “But it will depend on how quickly the infection goes away.

“He is on a course of antibiotics and it will be a case of waiting to see if they can get him right again.

“We are not a team which depends on one player, but it is obviously tough to cope without one of our main guys.”