SEASON PREVIEW: A fast start will be crucial

Tom Norton celebrates a goal for Phantoms.
Tom Norton celebrates a goal for Phantoms.
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Player-coach Tom Norton insists Peterborough Phantoms can’t afford a slow start to the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) Division One South season.

The city side go into competitive battle for the first time on Saturday night when they entertain the fancied Bracknell Bees team at Planet Ice (7pm).

Scott Robson is a key defenceman for Phantoms.

Scott Robson is a key defenceman for Phantoms.

Like Phantoms, the Bees also feature among the quartet of teams in the sport’s new second tier to have played at English Premier League level last year.

Basingstoke Bison and the Swindon Wildcats are the others and unsurprisingly all four are tipped to fight over honours.

And Norton has stressed the significance of hitting form immediately in a league campaign which features just 32 games (each team playing each other twice at home and twice away) – compared to the 50-plus fixtures the club have been used to in the EPL.

Norton, who will combine his playing duties with a role coaching his fellow defencemen, said: “It is very important to pick up points early – especially with a much shorter league campaign than in previous seasons.

“Bracknell look a strong outfit. They’ve made some good signings and won their first league game last weekend, but we also look pretty strong in all areas of our team.

“We want to get off to a good start. We don’t want to find ourselves having to play catch-up. We know we can’t read too much into pre-season results, but three wins out of four is a pretty good return for us.

“We’ve got better game by game as well and that’s another positive sign. We’ve scored plenty of goals and created plenty of chances.

“Things are starting to click, some good partnerships are beginning to form, and the bond in the dressing room is growing stronger all the time.

“We’re starting to see what everyone can offer and I feel sure exciting times are ahead.

“Silverware is certainly the aim and we’ve definitely put the hard work in this summer to lay the foundations.

“We are now raring to go. We can’t wait to get started.”

Bracknell won 7-5 at Milton Keynes Thunder in their league opener last Sunday. It was a victory which featured a hat-trick from major import capture Frantisek Bakrlik.

Phantoms roster 2017-18

NETMINDERS

Adam Long, Dan Lane, Jack Peacock

DEFENCEMEN

Scott Robson,Ben Russell, Robbie Ferrara, Edward Knaggs, Tom Norton, Greg Pick, Nathan Long.

FORWARDS

Ales Padelek, Darius Pliskauskas, James Ferrara, Leigh Jamieson, Nathan Salem, Will Weldon, Owen Griffiths, Glenn Billing, James White, Jack Escott, Taylor Romeo.