Petr steps in to complete the Phantoms line-up

Petr Stepanek.
Petr Stepanek.

Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov revealed the club’s new import capture was given a glowing reference by another of his overseas stars.

Czech forward Ales Padelek recommended his countryman Petr Stepanek to Koulikov after the pair played together in their homeland for HC Zdar nad Sazavou in the 2014/15 season.

Power forward Stepanek, who stands 6ft 5ins tall, will sample British hockey for the first time when joining up with the city side at the beginning of September ahead of the new English Premier League campaign.

And the Phantoms chief will be more than happy if this tip-off proves as good as the one for the player that Stepanek is to replace.

He will fill the void left by the exit of veteran forward Milan Baranyk to join fierce rivals Milton Keynes only halfway through a two-year deal.

Koulikov said: “Petr is a big guy with a lot of qualities that fit in well for this league.

“He has a good shot and I’m pretty sure he will become a good player for us.

“Ales has spoken highly of him after they played in the same team in the Czech Republic a couple of years ago.

“He knew the sort of player I was looking to bring in and he also knows what it takes to be successful in the EPL.

“I’m more than happy to trust the opinion of one of my very experienced players.

“I first signed Milan Baranyk on the basis of a recommendation from one of my old players, Frankie Bakrik, and that worked out very well.”

Twenty-six year-old Stepanek had until recently played all of his senior hockey to date in the second and third tiers in his native Czech Republic.

He enjoyed a career-best return of 42 points last season after managing 30 in the previous campaign.

Stepanek is now sampling the sport in the Southern Hemisphere after taking up a short-term offer from Australian side Sydney Ice Dogs.

Phantoms’ capture of Stepanek has been an open secret since early May while Baranyk’s desire to depart had also been known for some time.

It was eventually confirmed late last week with a brief Phantoms statement citing ‘family reasons’ for his decision.

Baranyk was swiftly unveiled as the second Phantoms player to move to Milton Keynes this summer. He follows former linemate Craig Scott to the Buckinghamshire club who are set to rise into the Elite League in 2017/18.

Koulikov added: “It was Milan’s decision to move on and we wish him all the best in his career.

“He helped us to be successful during his time with the club and I thank him for that.”

The arrival of Stepanek completes the Phantoms roster for the new season.

PHANTOMS 2016/2017 ROSTER

NETMINDERS: Janis Auzins, Dan Lane, Adam Long.

DEFENCEMEN: Tom Norton, Scott Robson, Ben Russell, Tom Stubley, Robbie Ferrara, Craig Wallis.

FORWARDS: Darius Pliskauskas, Ales Padelek, Petr Stepanek, James Ferrara, James Archer, Marc Levers, Will Weldon, Martins Susters, James White, Sam Towner, Connor Glossop, Owen Griffiths.