Phantoms are targeting a fabulous finish to 2014 in their final English Premier League home game of the year.
Victory against reigning champions Manchester at Planet Ice on Saturday (7pm) would boost the prospects of Slava Koulikov’s men entering 2015 in possession of second place in the standings.
Phantoms already boast home and away successes against the Phoenix and two more points are vital with the league table becoming tighter by the week.
Seven teams, from second-placed Phantoms to second-bottom Sheffield, are covered by just 10 points. Only the team finishing bottom (Bracknell are currently eight points adrift) miss out on the play-offs this season.
Koulikov admitted: “We have a good record against Manchester so far this season. We are two-and-one after three games and we will do everything we can to get a third win on Saturday.
“It is also the final home game of the year in the league and we want to get two points for the fans.
“As long as we perform in the way we can, we will have a chance.
“Every game and every point is very important with how the league is shaping up.
“It is becoming so close and we have played more games than the other teams.
“That is why we have to continue to pick up results to give ourselves the best chance of staying in the top four after being there for much of the season.”
Phantoms’ only other league fixture before the turn of the year is a December 27 trip to Sheffield. They also have two dates against lower-level side Billingham in the English Challenge Cup – away in the North-East on Sunday and at home on December 28.
Player-boss Koulikov continues to direct Phantoms’ operations from the bench, but he is targeting a return to action early in the new year.
He is scheduled to have an X-ray on his fractured wrist on January 2 and hopes to receive the all-clear to begin training.
Defenceman Cameron McGiffin is the only other current absentee after going down with glandular fever. The former Slough teenager has been ordered to rest by doctors.