Coach Koulikov calls for a supreme effort tonight

Tom Norton (centre) celebrates scoring against Swindon with team-mates Ales Padelek and James Ferrara.
Tom Norton (centre) celebrates scoring against Swindon with team-mates Ales Padelek and James Ferrara.
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Head coach Slava Koulikov has called for a supreme effort - from players and supporters alike - as Phantoms attempt to reach the NIHL Autumn Cup final tonight (Thursday).

The city team entertain Swindon Wildcats in a semi-final decider at Planet Ice (7.45pm) with the tie in the balance following a 3-3 draw in the opening leg last week.

Koulikov has urged his men to deliver a full-blooded 60-minute performance as they aim to take a big step towards silverware - and he hopes the people of Peterborough will turn out in force to create a cracking atmosphere.

“The aim was to bring the tie home in a position where we can win it - and we have done that,” said Koulikov.

“A draw was a fair result in the first leg as far as I am concerned. Now it comes down to 60 minutes of hockey against a very good team and we need to leave everything out there on the ice.

“It’s a night where we must have 110 per-cent from every single guy from the first moment the puck drops. It’s not just about tactics in a game like this. Of course we have a plan we will aim to execute, but effort and motivation are also key factors.

“Playing at home in front of good support really lifts the team. Hopefully as many fans as possible can get down to the rink and create a great atmosphere and we can finish the job of reaching the final together.”

Basingstoke or Hull will meet the winners in the final.

While Phantoms were out of action last weekend, the Wildcats slammed in 14 goals during an NIHL National Cup quarter-final destruction of London Raiders. They beat the capital side 8-0 at home and 6-2 on the road.

Phantoms then resume their NIHL Division One South title challenge with two weekend games against struggling sides.

The city side, who sit level with Basingstoke at the top of the standings, face a derby trip to Milton Keynes Thunder, who sit third-bottom in the standings, on Saturday, 7pm. That is followed by a home date against second-bottom Invicta Dynamos on Sunday, 5.30pm.

Koulikov added: “We want to win the league and every single game is important for us.

“We had a tough night in MK when being 2-0 down before we managed to get the result. They have pushed a lot of teams in their rink and we also have to be mindful of the fact that beat us in our building too.

“We’ll got there with the aim of picking up two points and then focus on Invicta. We’re concentrating on one game at a time. There is no point in trying to get ahead of ourselves.”

It could potentially be a significant weekend with joint-leaders Basingstoke facing home and away clashes against Swindon.

Phantoms then face rock-bottom Cardiff Fire - who have not won a game all season - in a double-header over the weekend of January 27/28.