Superb start is no surprise to star defenceman Tom

Tom Norton keeps an eye on Tony Hand on last season's play-off final.
Tom Norton keeps an eye on Tony Hand on last season's play-off final.

Star defenceman Tom Norton insists he is not in the least bit surprised by Phantoms’ fine start to the new English Premier League season.

The city side have lost only once in eight games in regulation time and have collected 12 of the 16 points available to them so far this term.

It is form which has propelled the reigning play-off champions into a three-way tie for supremacy in the standings along with fierce rivals Milton Keynes and a Basingstoke side they entertain at Planet Ice this Sunday (5.30pm).

“It has been a very good start to the season so far with only one loss in regulation time,” said Norton.

“The new guys have settled in well and everyone is buying into the game-plan.

“We’ve carried on from where we left off in all honesty as we really peaked towards the end of last season.

“I’m not at all surprised by the start. There is a huge amount of belief in our locker room and we do not fear any team in the league - no matter how much money they may be spending.

“It is still early days and it will probably be Christmas before everyone settles down and the table provides a true reflection.

“We just need to focus on continuing to pick up results and put points on the board. Any team that manages to produce three and four-point weekends regularly are going to be title contenders.

“It is not just about the league at this stage of the season as cup points are up for grabs as well.

“We want to make it through to the latter stages as we feel it is a good opportunity to try to win another trophy.”

The mention of silverware brings Phantoms perfectly on to their Saturday-night opponents as they meet Manchester Phoenix for the first time since sinking Tony Hand’s men in the play-off final on Easter Sunday.

And Norton is expecting to encounter a side determined to avenge that 5-2 defeat in the showpiece game of last season when they travel to the Deeside Leisure Centre (7pm).

Norton added: “There is no doubt Manchester will want revenge for what happened in the play-off final.

“We really spoiled the party on that day by beating them in Tony Hand’s farewell appearance as a player.

“But we wanted it more and it ended up becoming a fairytale for us instead.

“The play-off triumph was a huge moment for the club and everyone involved, but we have to look forward.

“We are now in a season and we want to build on that success by picking up more silverware. It is bound to be a tough game on Saturday. Tony can always be relied on to sign good imports and this season will be no different.

“They also have a good core of British players. Mark Thomas is a big signing on ‘D’ and having Luke Boothroyd back will be huge for them as they missed him for a lot of last season. And we know exactly what we will get from Basingstoke on Sunday. We’ve already beaten them once on our ice this season and hopefully we can do it again.”