Great weekend but now we need to focus on Raiders

Owen Griffiths (right) celebrates scoring against London Raiders in November.
Owen Griffiths (right) celebrates scoring against London Raiders in November.
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Phantoms head coach Slava Koulikov has reflected on one of the most pleasing weekends of the NIHL Division One South season.

Koulikov was impressed by the performances his side produced when beating Milton Keynes Thunder 5-1 and Bracknell Bees 6-2 last weekend.

The pair of victories kept the city team locked together with title rivals Basingstoke in the chase for glory.

“I thought we played really well against two totally different teams and styles,” said Koulikov.

“We executed our game-plan on both nights and picked up the results we needed.

“Earlier in the season we were having a brilliant game and then one where we should have done better, but just lately we have found more sharpness and consistency.

“It took us a little while to get over the defeat to Basingstoke at the beginning of this month, but step-by-step we have picked up our performances.

“We had a chat after that game where I asked the guys to review their own performances to have the belief in their ability.

“I feel we have been moving in the right direction since then. I said we had to win all eight games after that loss in Basingstoke and we’re halfway there now.

“The bigger picture has not changed because both teams have been winning since then. We have to continue ticking the games off.”

Koulikov insists Phantoms must show their next opponents plenty of respect. His side travel to London Raiders tomorrow (5.15pm) for their only outing of this weekend.

Phantoms know all about the quality of the capital side after they triumphed 6-3 at Planet Ice earlier in the season – a result cancelled out when Koulikov’s men won 5-2 at their opponents’ previous Lee Valley base.

But Phantoms now become the second team to visit the Raiders’ state-of-the-art new home at Sapphire Ice & Leisure in Romford. They had their first outing there last Sunday when being pipped 2-1 by Basingstoke.

“London have a new home, they are playing well and I’m sure they will have a big crowd behind them,” said Koulikov.

“We all remember the defeat to them at home and it wasn’t easy when we played them at Lee Valley either. It was one of those nights where we scored goals at crucial times to get control of the game.

“They pushed Basingstoke very hard last weekend in their first game at their new rink and they also have their own target of fourth spot ahead of the play-offs.

“But we have to focus on our own performance and continue to pick up the results we need.”