‘Ashes’ test will be a tough one

Craig Scott will be back at Planet Ice this weekend.
Craig Scott will be back at Planet Ice this weekend.
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Slava Koulikov has warned his Phantoms players to prepare for two stern tests against a team tipped to win the English Premier League title.

The city side complete their preparations for the new campaign when facing fierce rivals Milton Keynes Lightning in back-to-back challenge clashes this weekend.

The two sides meet in Buckinghamshire on Saturday (7pm) ahead of a return date at Planet Ice on Sunday (5.30pm) in the traditional eve-of-the-season ‘Ashes’ battles.

And it means Phantoms will be going up against two former players who moved to Lightning this summer.

Czech forward Milan Baranyk helped the city side to play-off glory in 2014/15 while Anglo-Canadian ace Craig Scott was their top-scorer last term when finishing second and reaching the EPL Cup final.

Koulikov said: “We know we are going to be in for two very tough tests against MK.

“We have a big rivalry with them and I’m sure the supporters will be keen to see us do well.

“It will also be interesting for the fans to see guys like Milan and Craig again after they did a good job for us, but it does not add anything extra to the game for me.

“My only focus is on the guys who will be playing for me this season and ensuring we continue to progress. It is all about being ready for the first league game on September 10.”

Phantoms fans will get their first glimpse of new import forward Petr Stepanek this weekend.

The giant Czech ace arrived in the country on Bank Holiday Monday after a successful stint in Australia where he racked up 30 points (15 goals and 15 assists) in 15 games for the Sydney Ice Dogs.

Big British signing James Archer was due to touch down on these shores today (Thursday) after a spell playing in New Zealand.

He is also set to be involved at the weekend while Will Weldon returns after being away for the club’s two outings against Sheffield Steeldogs last weekend.

Phantoms followed up a 3-3 home draw with a 7-5 defeat in Sheffield.

Locally-based Slovakian forward Mario Uhrik will again feature for Phantoms this weekend.

Uhrik has played to a high standard in his homeland in the past and could be added to the roster as a fifth import.