Festive showdownwith fierce rivalsnot to be missed

Coach Slava Koulikov is relishing Phantoms' festive showdowns against fierce rivals Milton Keynes.

Thursday, 22nd December 2016, 8:44 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:11 pm
A battle of the giants featuring Telford's Doug Clarkson and Phantoms' Petr Stepanek. Picture: Tom Scott

The two clubs are gearing up to meet in English Premier League clashes on successive nights with a Boxing Day date in Buckinghamshire followed by a Planet Ice return the following night.

It has the makings of a mouth-watering 24 hours with in-form Phantoms keen to claim a mighty scalp to cement their position in the top half of the standings while title-chasing Lightning, who sit second, aim to reel in leaders Telford.

Koulikov said: “They are two big games, which will hopefully be played in front of big crowds, at an important time of the year.

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“MK have games in hand on Telford and I can see them really closing that gap in the second half of the season to make a strong challenge for the title.

“We haven’t met MK for a while and we have no reason to fear them. I’m looking forward to the challenge of trying to beat them and I’m sure the players all feel the same.

“You look at the two rosters on paper and they will obviously be the favourites, but other teams have competed well against them and I’m hopeful that we can as well.”

Those back-to-back clashes against Milton Keynes mark the start of a demanding spell of five games in eight days going into 2017.

Phantoms then travel to Bracknell on December 30 ahead of two clashes against Sheffield. They host the Steeldogs at Planet Ice on New Year’s Day and head north for a return clash the following night.

Koulikov added: “It is a very hectic time in the season and we go into it in a good place.

“We’ve won six of our last seven games and the challenge is to continue picking up as many points as possible.

“The guys need to have maximum concentration during a busy spell like this. It’s a case of not dwelling on the past game or looking beyond the current game.

“We need to give every one of those five games our full focus.”

n Phantoms yesterday released two players and tied down another for next season.

Nottingham-based pair, defenceman Craig Wallis and forward Connor Glossop, have both been let go by the city club. The are both well down the pecking order in their respective positions.

Castor teenager James White was handed a contract for the 2017/18 campaign.