Phantoms coach signs a former Lightning man

Ben Russell has joined Phantoms.

Ben Russell has joined Phantoms.

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New Phantoms recruit Ben Russell is looking forward to sampling one of the biggest rivalries in English Premier League hockey from the other side.

The 22 year-old defenceman has been snapped up by coach Slava Koulikov from fellow EPL side Manchester Phoenix for the 2016/17 season.

But the highly-rated Russell has also played for the city club’s fiercest rivals, Milton Keynes Lightning, in the past after being born and bred in the Buckinghamshire town.

Russell said: “Growing up in Milton Keynes, Peterborough was always the team that rivalled my own. It is exciting to now be on the other side and I can’t wait to get started with Phantoms.

“It was an easy decision to join as like the direction the club wants to go in, and how Slava wants to take the team forward to challenge for silverware.

“I’m not a flashy player, but I pride myself on doing the little things that contribute to winning hockey games.”

Russell had two full seasons with Milton Keynes before moving to Manchester for last term.

He also boasts experience of playing the game on the other side of the Atlantic after spending three years in Canada as a teenager.

Koulikov said: “Ben developed into a very solid defenceman when playing in Manchester last season under a good and strict coaching regime.

“He is an intelligent person who possesses the right mentality to play for Phantoms. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Phantoms have also handed another defenceman, Craig Wallis, a permanent role for 2016/17.

The 21 year-old broke through during last season when stepping up from the Islanders set-up on the recommendation of their coach Stevie Johnson.

He missed the final few weeks of the campaign with a broken wrist, but had done more than enough to impress Koulikov by then.

Koulikov added: “Craig plays a simple game, skates well for his size and has a good shot from the blue line. He deserves a full-time chance in the EPL and it is up to him to take it.”