Peterborough Phantoms ice hockey team are up for the cup as they prepare for a tough start

Peterborough Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov will ensure his players are up for the cup when the National KO competition starts this weekend (September 18/19).

Friday, 17th September 2021, 11:08 am
Phantoms celebrate a goal for Glenn Billing at Planet Ice last weekend. Photo: Kevin Bennett.

Phantoms travel to Basingstoke for the opening fixture tomorrow (Saturday), before hosting MK Lightning for the second successive Sunday (5.30pm). Phantoms lost twice to MK in challenge matches last weekend.

Koulikov said: “The cup is important for many reasons. It gives us additional games to build the team and prepare for the league. Normally, you’d just play a few pre-season games and then get right into the league so it’s good to have the cup, especially after the extended period with no hockey, to prepare tactically and improve fitness while also grinding out results.

“It’s another trophy the team want to compete for so it’s important to build towards qualifying for the next round. If we do that we will start the league in good form.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Based on what we saw last season from Basingstoke it will be a difficult, high paced, physical game. They play direct hockey so there will be pressure on our defence and the forwards will have to come back and help out a lot, which will improve their fitness levels while they do it.

“It’s a positive for us to have a game like this so early. It will be a big test for us, but you’d rather play in a competitive game than have an easy ride and I’m sure we’ll be ready after a second week of training.

“I’m also expecting another battle with MK. They’re a good, organised, fast-paced team with good goaltending. They’re a well balanced team that have a lot of speed so again it should be very competitive and very exciting.

“We can improve our fitness, line combination and tactical plays in all three zones. There’s no chance after such a long layoff we can say after one weekend we’ve got everything sorted.

“There were definitely some positives to take from last weekend. but realistically, everything can be improved on and we will do just than in the coming weeks.”