Phantoms need six of the best in play-offs

Phantoms ace Milan Baranyk has been selected in a EPL all-star team. Photo: Alan Storer.
Phantoms ace Milan Baranyk has been selected in a EPL all-star team. Photo: Alan Storer.
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Peterborough Phantoms player-coach Slava Koulikov insists six good periods of hockey are required for the club to keep their silverware hopes alive.

The city team take on Swindon Wildcats at the quarter-final stage of the English Premier League play-offs this weekend.

They do battle in Wiltshire tomorrow (March 28, 6pm) ahead of a return clash at Planet Ice on Sunday (March 29, 5.30pm) with a place in the finals weekend over Easter awaiting the winners.

Phantoms have not progressed to that stage since 2010/11 and Koulikov said: “It is now basically a two-game season to achieve our goal of reaching the play-offs finals.

“It is going to be an exciting weekend and everything points to it being very tight after we ended a long season on the same points total and won the same number of games against each other.

“It had to go down to goal difference in those six games between us to split us.

“The guys know the deal and we are treating it just like any other weekend.

“It is 120 minutes of hockey against a good team and we need six good periods to come out on top. We are more than capable of doing that.”

Phantoms trained on Wednesday night (March 25) and were due to make their final preparations in another practice session tonight (March 27).

Koulikov has been handed the EPL coach-of-the-year accolade by Ice Hockey Journalists UK (IHJUK) ahead of the quarter-final showdown.

But the modest boss was quick to insist the gong, gained in just his third season as a coach, is reward for all involved in Phantoms’ best campaign for some time.

He added: “It was a surprise to get the call to say I had won the award. It certainly isn’t something I expected.

“A lot of hard work has gone into making this a good season for the club and everyone deserves praise for that.

“Yes, I am the coach, but my coaching team and the players have all responded to the things I have tried to do.”

Phantoms import forward Milan Baranyk was named in the EPL All-Star second team by IHJUK. The Czech ace is the club’s highest points-scorer with 24 goals and 35 assists in his debut season on these shores.

But the writers’ association strangely overlooked netminder Janis Auzins who has excelled throughout the season.

EPL All-Star First Team

Tom Murdy (Telford Tigers); Jonathan Weaver (Telford Tigers), Sam Zajac (Telford Tigers); Peter Szabo (Telford Tigers), Jason Silverthorn (Telford Tigers), Aaron Nell (Swindon Wildcats).

EPL All-Star Second Team

Stevie Lyle (Swindon Wildcats); Petr Horava (Milton Keynes Lightning), Branislav Kvetan (Guildford Flames); Frantisek Bakrlik (Manchester Phoenix), Ciaran Long (Basingstoke Bison), Milan Baranyk (Peterborough Phantoms).