Peterborough Phantoms go into a new year in a good place, but in need of more consistency.
That is the message from coach Slava Koulikov who has guided his side to third place in the English Premier League.
Phantoms are already virtually certain to qualify for the play-offs, but they hope their journey will culminate in participation in the finals weekend at Coventry for the first time since the unforgettable treble season of 2008/09.
To do that they must finish a job they have started so impressively this season. They will also have to do it without influential forward Alan Lack who leaves the club because of work commitments after the English Premier League game at home to basement boys Bracknell on Saturday (7pm).
Koulikov said: “We can be happy with what we have achieved so far this season, but we must remember there is still a lot of work to do.
“Guildford overtook us last weekend and other teams can do the same if they win their games in hand. It is impossible to predict where we might finish as the table is so tight.
“The lack of consistency has been an issue, but it is something which always takes a while to get right – especially after bringing in the high number of new players that we did during the summer.
“We will miss ‘Lacky’. We wanted him to stay, but it wasn’t possible.”
Koulikov took charge in December 2013 with Phantoms in the doldrums. His arrival sparked improvement, but they failed to claw their way into the play-offs last season.
Koulikov added: “It hurt everyone at the club to not be involved in the play-offs. That was our target for last season and we failed to hit it. I am sure we would have got into the top eight had we not lost our netminder Kamil Jarina to injury,
“It was very difficult to come into my job mid-season and I quickly realised we needed to re-structure.
“We had to put together a team that came in on budget and could be capable of competing with all other teams in the league.
“Up to now we have done that and we need to continue doing it to ensure the season finishes as well as it has started.”
The next challenges for Phantoms are posed by the teams currently found at opposite ends of the EPL standings. They travel to champions elect Telford on Sunday (5.30pm).
James Hutchinson and Marc Levers could both return for the weekend games.