Peterborough Phantoms confident as they head into the opening weekend of the National Ice Hockey League season

Action from Phantoms v Sheffield last weekend. Photo: Matt Sludds.Action from Phantoms v Sheffield last weekend. Photo: Matt Sludds.
Action from Phantoms v Sheffield last weekend. Photo: Matt Sludds.
Boosted by a strong finish to their ultimately unsuccessful Autumn Cup campaign, Peterborough Phantoms go into the start of the National Ice Hockey League season with a spring in their step.

It’s a tough opening weekend for the city side who travel to take on the Basingstoke Bison on Saturday before taking on Leeds Knights at Planet Ice on Sunday (October 17, 5.30pm).

Basingstoke thumped Phantoms 6-0 in Hampshire in the opening Autumn Cup match of the campaign, but last weekend Phantoms became the first team to beat Leeds when triumphing 5-4 in a thriller at Elland Road.

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Coach Slava Koulikov’s men had beaten another high-flying team in the Sheffield Steeldogs 24 hours earlier to complete a confidence-bossting weekend.

It wasn’t enough for Phantoms to extend their stay in the Autumn Cup to the knockout stages, but the results highlighted the random nature of ice hockey in the UK with every team capable of beating any opponent.

Koulikov is certainly making no predictions about the season ahead.

“It’s too early to predict where we’re going to be at the end of the season,” Koulikov stated. “We are a young team with many personnel changes at the top end.

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“There is a lot of work to be done, but as long as we improve every week as individuals and as a team we should be competitive against every other team in the league.

“Every win is a confidence boost so we take plenty from last weekend’s results. The guys understood what it takes to win against the top teams and hopefully they will enjoy the challenge this weekend like they enjoyed the challenges of last weekend.

“We are playing two very different, but very strong sides in their own way this weekend.

“Basingstoke are a very hard working team with a great coach who makes everyone buy in to his philosophy.

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“Leeds are stacked with high-end talented British players and one of the best goalies in the league.

“We need to concentrate on ourselves and play hard for the full 60 minutes to have a chance of picking up points in both games.”

Leeds won six straight Autumn Cup games before losing to Phantoms. Basingstoke lost twice last weekend to slip out of the qualification places.

The same nine teams make up the National League.

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