Peterborough Phantoms had plenty to be positive about despite two defeats on the opening weekend of the National League season

Peterborough Phantoms ice hockey head coach Slava Koulikov found plenty to be positive about despite two defeats to start the National League season.

By Tom Lea
Friday, 22nd October 2021, 1:16 pm
Nathan Pollard on duty for Peterborough Phantoms against Leeds last weekend. Photo: Matt Sludds.
Nathan Pollard on duty for Peterborough Phantoms against Leeds last weekend. Photo: Matt Sludds.

A depleted squad, subsequent fatigue, bad luck and inspired goaltending were all factors as Phantoms went down 7-4 at Basingstoke Bison and 5-3 at home to Leeds Knights.

Phantoms attempt to kickstart their season at local rivals MK Lightning on Saturday (October 23, 7pm face off) and then against Romford-based Raiders at Planet Ice on Sunday (5.30pm).

“Considering we had so many guys out and Corey McEwen took a knock early in the game, the guys battled really well on Saturday night,” Kouilkov said. “They showed great determination to score two goals in around a minute to tie the game going into the third period.

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Phantoms pair Will Weldon and Glenn Billing (white) are waiting for a pass in the game against Leeds last weekend. Photo: Matt Sludds.

“We were actually unlucky not to go into the third period with a 4-3 lead, but then it became difficult as they rolled all their lines and we got tired.

“Their two quick goals killed our momentum and it made it difficult to try and get back into the game again. “Then on Sunday, again we actually played really well, but came up against one of the best goaltenders in the league in his best form, which always makes a game difficult.

“We created plenty of chances which on another night would have gone in and it could’ve been a different outcome. Leeds are a good team with a lot of high-end Brits and they punished us when they created chances.

“But I’m pleased with my guys’ compete level in both games because they didn’t go down without a fight in either of them.

“Our games against Milton Keynes are always good games. They’ll have a packed building and it’ll be good to see a lot of travelling fans there on Saturday night.

“They’re starting to get their roster back together after injuries and suspensions so we need to make sure we put in the same compete level as last weekend and execute the game plan we set out.

“We had a good win in Romford against the Raiders in the Autumn Cup, but games against them are never easy.

“We know they’ll come into our rink with energy and finish all of their checks so we need to be prepared for a fast-paced game on Sunday.

“They have recruited well and their top forward lines are capable of causing problems for any team in this league so we need to be aware of that and make sure we take our own chances when they come along.”

Phantoms are bottom of the early National League table. The Bees were the only other team to lose twice last weekend.