LATEST NEWS: Russell is feeling good after re-signing

Ben Russell in action for Phantoms.
Ben Russell in action for Phantoms.
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Defenceman Ben Russell insists he has a ‘good feeling’ about next season after agreeing a return to the Peterborough Phantoms.

The blue-line ace was a classy performer in his debut campaign for the city side despite seeing it interrupted by a lay-off with concussion.

Now he is keen to play his part in a challenge for honours in the new National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) Division One South era under top coach Slava Koulikov.

Russell (23), said: “I have a good feeling that we will be serious contenders for silverware and I want to be part of that.

“Although I’ve only been in Peterborough for a year, I love the club, I love the fans and I really enjoy the style of hockey we play.

“It was a no-brainer to sign again when I was asked back, and I’m excited about the new league.

“It means we’ll be facing new teams and new players – and they are all looking strong. It will be a great test.”

Russell joins fellow returning players Tom Norton, Robbie Ferrara and Scott Robson, and new arrival Ed Knaggs as confirmed defensive captures for the new campaign.

The club have already announced the signings of nine forwards – including imports Ales Padelek and Darius Pliskauskas, and new recruits Leigh Jamieson, Nathan Salem and Glenn Billing.

Phantoms are still to announce who will succeed Janis Auzins as their netminder next term.

His back-up for the past two campaigns, Adam Long, is expected to be with the club again.

Phantoms are one of nine teams in NIHL Division One South next season.

It also features Bracknell Bees, Basingstoke Bison, Cardiff Fire, Invicta Dynamos, London Raiders, Milton Keynes Thunder, Streatham and Swindon Wildcats.

They will play each other twice at home and twice away for a 32-game season.

Phantoms also feature in a 12-team NIHL National Cup competition, which will include sides from the South and North set-ups.

They are in Group B along with northern sides, and old English Premier League adversaries, Sheffield Steeldogs and Hull Pirates.

The National Cup features eight group games with the sides playing each other twice at home and twice away.

The top two in each group will advance to knockout stages in early 2018.

And Phantoms are one of six teams enlisted for the NIHL Autumn Trophy competition.

They are in Group 1 alongside Basingstoke and Sheffield and will play both teams once at home and once away with the top two going on to the semi-finals.