Peterborough Phantoms’ injury woes worsened when captain James Ferrara was taken to hospital during an English Premier League derby defeat last night (February 12).
The defenceman suffered a cut and swelling around his eye after being caught by an accidental high-stick from former Phantoms player Milan Baranyk in the second period of a 4-1 reverse to Milton Keynes.
Ferrara must now return to Peterborough City Hospital today (Monday) for further checks on his vision after having initial treatment last night.
The skipper could become the fourth Phantoms defenceman to be sidelined with Scott Robson, Ben Russell and young prospect Callum Medcalf all out with concussion.
And the club have been dealt a further blow by a thigh injury to star netminder Janis Auzins which Koulikov admits could keep the Latvian talisman out for most of the remainder of the season.
Koulikov said: “We just can’t catch a break with injuries. We have so many guys already out and now we lose Jimmy too.
“It was a complete accident and there was certainly no intent on Milan’s part, but everything seems to be going against us.
“We could now have four defencemen missing on top of the best goalie in the league also being out.
“Janis picked up his injury when we won in MK a few weeks ago. He has been managing it, but it has got to the point now where he needs to rest and try to get it right again.
“I’m not sure how long that will take. It could be two weeks, it could be three to four weeks, it could be longer. We just have to wait and see.”
The injury to Ferrara was of considerably more concern to Koulikov than the loss to the club’s big rivals and EPL Cup final opponents last night.
Former Phantoms man Lewis Hook gave Milton Keynes the lead with the only breakthrough of the opening period.
Frantisek Bakrlik doubled the visitors’ advantage in a second session in which Phantoms failed to make the five-minute powerplay, which followed Baranyk’s ejection for the high-sticking offence on Ferrara, count.
Petr Stepanek became the second home player to ping the crossbar after Marc Levers had also done so in the opening moments of the game.
But they eventually found the twine early in the final period as Owen Griffiths picked the pocket of Lightning defenceman Leigh Jamieson before firing past Przemyslaw Odrobny.
Only a fine save from the import netminder denied Edgars Bebris a leveller moments later, but Milton Keynes soon restored their two-goal cushion as Lewis Christie finished off a breakaway.
Phantoms pulled netminder Adam Long, who delivered a man-of-the-match performance for the second successive night, with a couple of minutes to go, but their late bid to claw their way back into the contest ended when Bakrlik struck into the empty net after charging down a Darius Pliskauskas shot.
Koulikov added: “MK are one of a couple of complete teams at this level. To beat them with so many guys missing is very difficult.
“We managed it a couple of times in their rink since Christmas, but they have responded by winning here.
“Of course we always want to win, but it was a game that MK really needed to win to stay in the chase for the league title, whereas we are looking towards targets further down the line.”
A busy spell for Phantoms continues when they travel to Swindon on Wednesday night (February 15).
They host bottom side Bracknell (February 18) and go to league leaders Telford (February 19) at the weekend.
42:57 Griffiths unassisted
15:42 Hook ass: Holli/Farn
33:48 Bakrlik ass: Emersic
45:01 Christie ass: Johnson
58:48 Bakrlik (ENG) unassisted
PHANTOMS – Adam Long
MILTON KEYNES – Michael Farn