Phantoms hoping to build on the progress made so far

Tom Norton celebrates a powerplay strike with Ales Padelek. Picture: Tom Scott
Tom Norton celebrates a powerplay strike with Ales Padelek. Picture: Tom Scott
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Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov is keen to continue a pre-season of progress in his side’s final outings ahead of the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) Division One South campaign.

Koulikov was encouraged by the improvement shown during the course of two Billy Glover Memorial challenge clashes against likely title rivals Basingstoke last weekend.

James White and James Archer (right) attempt to put the puck in the Basingstoke net. Picture: Tom Scott

James White and James Archer (right) attempt to put the puck in the Basingstoke net. Picture: Tom Scott

Phantoms were beaten 5-0 in Hampshire in the first of those contests before claiming a 6-5 victory on home ice the following night.

Import ace Ales Padelek hit a hat-trick in the victory which also featured goals from fellow overseas star, Darius Pliskauskas, new recruit Leigh Jamieson and the long-serving Will Weldon.

Now, Koulikov wants his men to kick on in back-to-back outings against another team expected to challenge for honours in the sport’s new second tier.

They face Swindon on successive nights, travelling to Wiltshire on Saturday (6.15pm) before welcoming the Wildcats to Planet Ice on Sunday (5.30pm).

“We were very keen to face Basingstoke as we knew they would provide a strong challenge,” said Koulikov.

“Both teams got a really good workout from two games played at a high speed with great intensity.

“We improved shift by shift, period by period throughout the weekend and that’s great to see.

“There was definite progress - both individually and as a team - and it is now a case of ensuring we continue to build on that going into the season.

“Swindon are another team, like ourselves and Basingstoke, who will be expected to fight for silverware.

“They usually have a different style of play and it will be interesting to see how we shape up against them this weekend.”

The NIHL Division One South season begins the following weekend.

Phantoms entertain Bracknell in their first game on Saturday, September 16.