One of Peterborough hockey’s greatest servants is taking on a new challenge.
Jason Buckman made 501 appearances for senior citysides during a career which spanned two decades until his retirement at the end of last season.
The 37 year-old was immediately handed a place on the Phantoms’ coaching staff with responsibility for working with their defenceman.
But now he will be in full control for the next two games - at home to Bracknell this Sunday and away at Guildford on December 17 - as coach Slava Koulikov is away with the Great Britain Under 20 squad at their World Championship event.
And Buckman is looking forward to leading the team into battle as they bid to cement their position in the top half of the English Premier League standings ahead of a hectic festive schedule.
Buckman said: “I’ve prepared the team a couple of times during the week when Slava has been away, and I’m excited about the challenge of looking after the next two games.
“I’ve enjoyed being part of the coaching team even though I initially struggled with the mental side of not playing.
“I guess that is to be expected after a career of almost 20 years, but it has got better as the season has gone on and I’m learning all the time.
“I’m sure it will feel a bit strange to not have Slava on the bench, but it will also be a proud moment for me and it’s all about ensuring we come away with the right results.
“We beat Bracknell convincingly last Sunday and we have to ensure we approach this game with exactly the same mindset.
“We cannot afford to take them lightly as they have dangerous players who are capable of hurting teams.”
And Buckman insists Phantoms have every right to be happy with how the current campaign is taking shape following a stack of personnel changes during the summer.
They sit fifth in the EPL standings and have the prospect of an EPL Cup semi-final showdown against troubled Telford to look forward to in the new year.
“There were a lot of changes to the roster,” added Buckman.
“But we have a young group of guys who are just going to get better and better.
“The first targets for the season were to get into the top half of the EPL table and make the semi-finals of the EPL cup, so I think we can feel happy having achieved both of those things.”
Director of hockey, Jon Kynaston, will work alongside Buckman for the next two games.
Kynaston - himself a former Phantoms boss - is the senior coach at the club in terms of qualification.