ICE HOCKEY: Lanes sought stability with coach Slava Koulikov

Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov is working on a three-year contract.
Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov is working on a three-year contract.

Peterborough Phantoms’ new owners believe stability will be the key to continued success.

The first thing Dave and Jo Lane did following their spring takeover was tie down trophy-winning coach Slava Koulikov for another three years.

Plenty more multi-year contracts followed for many of the players involved in the famous play-off triumph as the club ended a trophy drought stretching back to their treble season of 2008-2009.

Dave said: “The club has changed coach far too often for my liking. We need stability and Slava has given us that.

“He was very keen to commit himself to a longer deal and we were determined to tie him down after he did such a superb job in his first 18 months.

“The day will come when Slava moves on to bigger and better things in the future, but he has a lot of work to do here in the meantime.

“The same thinking regarding continuity is why we have given a lot of players two-year contracts.

“We don’t want to be in a position where we require mass recruitment and a rebuilding job every summer. That just leads to a disjointed dressing room.

“We don’t have the best facilities and we certainly don’t have the biggest budget, but those guys in the locker room work for each other and the club.

“That collectiveness and spirit was a big part in our success and it is something we wanted to maintain.

“A lot of people are of the opinion we over-achieved last season in winning the play-offs and I guess time will tell whether or not they are right.

“Personally, I would like to think we can maintain the level of performance and challenge for trophies again.”

But Koulikov is more than merely a coach of a senior side. He is seen as a vital cog in the wheel that keeps the entire Peterborough hockey system turning.

The creation of a new generation of homegrown players features high on the priority list with Director of Hockey Jon Kynaston, Islanders coach Stevie Johnson and Koulikov all united in their determination to make that happen.

Dave added: “We saw during last season that Slava is prepared to give young players a chance and that sends out a great message to all those coming through the junior system.

“As an example James White played Under 18, Islanders and Phantoms during the same season and that was terrific to see.

“Not every youngster is going to be a Lewis Hook or a Luke Ferrara or a Craig Peacock who is going to jump straight into playing on the top lines for Phantoms.

“Sometimes players need to be brought through gradually to find their feet in senior hockey and they will be given the time to do that.

“In Jon, Stevie and Slava we have three of the best hockey men.

“They are all on the same page and all determined to make the future bright . . . and that is exactly what we want as owners.”