Phantoms warned to beware of a Bison stampede

Cam McGiffin misses Phantoms' matches this weekend because of international duty.
Cam McGiffin misses Phantoms' matches this weekend because of international duty.

Coach Slava Koulikov insists his absence will not be an issue for Phantoms as they take on teams at opposite ends of the English Premier League this weekend.

Koulikov misses a trip to table-topping Basingstoke on Saturday (6pm) and a home clash against bottom side Hull on Sunday (5.30pm) due to his involvement with the Great Britain Under 20 squad.

He is the assistant coach of the national side – also including Phantoms defenceman Cameron McGiffin - which competes in the World Championships Division (1B) in Megreve, France.

Koulikov has been extensively involved in Phantoms’ preparation for two very different tests and and will follow their progress with interest from afar.

He said: “We have my father, Alex, and Lee Elias on our coaching team and we also have a lot of senior guys in our roster.

“We have worked out the structure of the games together and the responsibilities will then be shared around during the weekend.

“I have full trust in my coaching and playing staff to make the right decisions during the games.

“I must admit it will be a strange feeling for my team to be playing games and not being there in person, but I look forward to catching up with the guys and hopefully hearing about good performances and results.”

Phantoms travel to Hampshire on Saturday sitting one point behind Basingstoke in the standings, but boasting a game in hand.

They have already claimed two home victories over the Bison this term, but their hosts are yet to taste defeat on their own ice.

That clash is followed by the arrival of improving basement boys Hull at Planet Ice the following night.

Phantoms roared into double-figures when last hosting the Pirates, but Koulikov does not expect a repeat of that scoreline.

He added: “Basingstoke are unbeaten at home and they are playing really well on their own ice.

“It goes without saying that it will be a really tough game, but we will be ready for it.

“We have already proved we are capable of winning games on the road at some very tough places.

“We’ve won in Swindon, we’ve won in Telford and we had a really good win in Guildford last weekend.

“We cannot take Hull lightly either. They have added some players recently and I can pretty much guarantee it will not be another 11-0 game.

“What it is though is a game we need to do a professional job in to ensure we pick up the two points.”