Phantoms have to stay focused for 60 minutes

Craig Scott on the puck against MK Lightning.
Craig Scott on the puck against MK Lightning.
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Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov wants his players to start delivering 60-minute performances.

It has been a mixed start to the English Premier League campaign for the reigning play-off champions. Back-to-back wins in the opening weekend were followed by a pair of losses at the hands of Guildford and Milton Keynes last weekend.

And while Koulikov is taking many positives from the displays produced by his side so far, he believes extra consistency is required if they are to be successful on a regular basis.

He said: “There have been some really good spells in games and we have showed a really good attitude - such as when we fought back from 3-1 down to get back to 3-3 and take MK into overtime - but we have to find the necessary consistency.

“We’ve played well for 20 minutes here and 30 minutes there, but we need to do it for 60 minutes every night to put points on the board.

“We’ve had two good results so far and two disappointing ones so far.

“We scored early goals in the first weekend against Swindon and Basingstoke and went on to win those games.

“We then fell two goals behind in both games last weekend and ended up losing them, so it is clear that it is tough to have to fight back in this league.

“We have to be focused from start to finish.”

This weekend Phantoms take on the teams who finished at opposite ends of the English Premier League table last season.

And Koulikov reckons at least one of them - reigning champions Telford, who Phantoms travel to face on Sunday (6pm) - will end up in the same position again even though they’ve already lost twice against Swindon and Basingstoke on home ice - a feat also achieved by Phantoms during last season.

But first up for Phantoms is the Saturday visit to Planet Ice (7pm) of a Bracknell side expected to leave the basement behind this term after being cast adrift in 2014/15.

The Bees have received investment from the big-spending Red Hockey outfit who also own Telford and roared into double-figures when thumping newboys Hull 10-3 last Sunday.

Koulikov added: “Bracknell have strengthened their Brits and improved their imports, and they are sure to be a threat.

“You only have to look at the results around the league in the opening couple of weeks of the season so see that no team can be taken lightly.

“I have said many times that I believe Telford will again be the top team as they were last year.

“They have lost a couple of times already, but we will have to be at our absolute best to compete against them.”