Griffiths thrilled to be offered a new deal with Phantoms
Top talent Owen Griffiths insists he had no hesitation in extending his Phantoms career.
The Welsh wizard was a star performer during the 2016-17 campaign, emerging as one of the leading young talents in the second tier of the sport.
He contributed 32 points and was described as a ‘revelation’ by coach Slava Koulikov, who confirmed the 20 year-old’s return at the club’s end-of-season awards bash last Thursday night.
Griffiths, who scooped three gongs at the event, said: “It was good to be a part of Phantoms last season and it is great to be back again for 2017.
“I’ve enjoyed playing for Slava and like the way the team is progressing.
“Silverware was the only thing missing and hopefully we can put that right next year.”
Another Phantoms multi-award winner, Wehebe Darge, is not expected to return.
The Australian ace is returning to his homeland for the new season there before returning to Europe again later in the year.
He has been linked with a move to a French club while fellow import Petr Stepanek’s exit has already been confirmed by the club. He is expected to return to his native Czech Republic.
Full list of Phantoms’ award-winners . . .
Player of the Year: Janis Auzins.
Coach’s Player of the Year: Robbie Ferrara.
Players’ Player of the Year: Darius Pliskauskas.
Young Player of the Year: Owen Griffiths.
Phanforce Player of the Year: Wehebe Darge.
Phanforce Young Player of the Year: Owen Griffiths.
Defenceman of the Year: Tom Norton.
Forward of the Year: Wehebe Darge.
Most Improved Player of the Year: Owen Griffiths.
Unsung Hero: Jeff Dwyer.
Special Recognition Award: Ian Offers.
PREMIER LEAGUE FUTURE
Phantoms owner Dave Lane says he is ‘monitoring the situation closely’ as concerns grow for the future of the second tier of ice hockey.
The city outfit were originally one of seven clubs expected to play in the newly-named Premier Ice Hockey League from 2017-18 onwards but those seven clubs are being encouraged by the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) to join the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) instead. Swindoin have already applied.
The NIHL has previously served as the third tier of the sport, but that could now change if the new Premier League does not get off the ground.
The other six teams have until May 7 to apply.
The situation is somewhat complicated by the fact that Peterborough Islanders have won the Division Two South (East) title in the NIHL this season - an achievement which gives them the right to be promoted into Division One if they so wish.
Lane said: “We’re in discussions with other teams and leagues and as soon as something is concrete, we’ll let everyone know.
“There will definitely be ice hockey in Peterborough in 2017-18 with the club competing at the best level it possibly can.”
The following teams were expected to make up the new Premier League: Phantoms, Basingstoke, Bracknell, Telford, Sheffield, Swindon and Hull.
The NIHL Division One South boasted nine teams last season: Bracknell Hornets, Chelmsford Chieftains, Invicta Dynamos, London Raiders, Milton Keynes Thunder, Oxford City Stars, Solent Devils, Streatham and Wightlink Raiders.
Peterborough Islanders can complete a trophy treble this weekend.
The city side face Chelmsford Warriors over two legs in the final of the NIHL Division Two South play-offs.
Islanders, who have already captured the Division Two (East) title and cup crown, will be hot favourites to add another honour to their collection.
But coach Stevie Johnson stressed: “Chelmsford are a dangerous side with a very good netminder.
“They did the treble last season and I’m sure they’ll be determined to stop us matching that feat.
“But we’re going into the game on a high after beating Bristol, who have been our bogey team for a couple of years, in the semi-final last weekend.”
Phantoms won 4-1 on the road against Bristol before thumping them 10-5 at Planet Ice. Brad Moore, Clint Herring and Craig Wallis all scored twice in the home fixture.
The away leg of the final is at Chelmsford on Saturday (5.40pm face-off) ahead of a return at Planet Ice on Sunday (5.30pm start).