ICE HOCKEY: Peterborough Phantoms elect to meet Sheffield in the play-offs
Peterborough Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov insists English Premier League finishing positions will be forgotten in the chase for play-off glory.
The second-placed city side have chosen to face Sheffield Steeldogs, who finished the regular season in seventh, at the quarter-final stage as they begin the defence of their trophy.
The two teams will do battle next weekend with the opening leg in South Yorkshire on Saturday (March 26) being followed by a Sunday (March 27) return at Planet Ice (5.30pm).
Phantoms finished 25 points clear of Sheffield and also triumphed in all six clashes against them during the regular campaign, but they will now need to continue that streak in a do-or-die double-header to secure a return to Coventry.
Koulikov said: “We have proved we can beat Sheffield in their building and in our rink.
“On paper we might be favourites, but what has happened during the season counts for nothing now we are into the play-offs.
“We start at 0-0 in Sheffield on Saturday night and we need to make sure we are the team in front at the end of the third period on Sunday night.
“We have to play our best hockey, hope for good refereeing and that bit of luck to help us get back to Coventry to defend our trophy.
“The play-offs always throw up exciting and physical hockey, and next weekend will be no different.”
League champions Basingstoke opted to face eighth-placed Manchester, leaving the way clear for Phantoms to select their preferred opponents.
The other ties see third-placed Guildford face sixth-placed Swindon while fourth-placed Telford meet fifth-placed Milton Keynes.
The four winning sides will then converge on the Coventry Skydome to battle for end-of-season honours over the weekend of April 2 & 3.