Early retirement the wrong decision for Ales

Ales Padelek in action.
Ales Padelek in action.
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Phantoms import Ales Padelek admits he quickly realised that announcing his retirement was the wrong decision.

The Czech star called time on his distinguished career in the immediate aftermath of the club’s NIHL Final Four defeat to Hull in April which brought the curtain down on a treble-winning season.

But Padelek (39) soon had second thoughts and recently completed a U-turn when being confirmed as part of the Phantoms’ roster for the 2019/20 campaign in the new NIHL Division One.

And he has spoken of his immense gratitude towards head coach Slava Koulikov, and owners Dave and Jo Lane, for being allowed to lace up the skates with Phantoms again.

Padelek said: “Making the decision to retire at the end of last season was built around emotion for my family and thinking that going out on a high note was the right thing to do.

“The years I have dedicated to the sport I love meant I missed out on time with my family and the guilt took over.

“After winning three trophies and a successful season, I thought what better time than now to retire, but I was wrong.

“My family spoke to me and reassured me they were proud of me and wanted me to continue playing if that is what I wanted.

“I think everyone could see after the announcement, I had realised I had made the wrong decision.

“I am really pleased Slava, Dave and Jo allowed me to come back to this fantastic team. It is a great group of guys and we have achieved a lot together.

“The team spirit has grown so much over the last season and it is great to be able to continue the journey which will hopefully lead to even greater success.”

Padelek’s return means there has been only one change to the roster which won the NIHL Autumn Cup, NIHL Cup and the NIHL Division One South play-offs last term with Conor Pollard stepping up and James White not playing next term.

Phantoms are one of 10 teams to feature in the new NIHL Division One which is expected to begin on the weekend of September 14/15.

They feature in the Southern Conference alongside Swindon, Bracknell, Basingstoke and Raiders.

Bizarrely the city club have been placed into the opposite conference to closest rivals Milton Keynes Lightning, who return to the second tier after two seasons in the Elite League.

Milton Keynes feature in the Northern section along with Telford, Sheffield, Hull and the new Leeds Chiefs clubs.

Teams will play four home and away games against those in their own conference while meeting sides from the other conference twice at home and away.

The top eight teams at the end of the regular season advance to the play-offs which will be played in a group format.

The top two outfits in each group will then qualify for the finals weekend in Coventry.

There is also a National Cup competition where results in the first home games against all other clubs count towards the qualifying standings.