Peterborough Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov declared himself happy with the progress of his new-look roster following their opening weekend of English Premier League preparations.
The city team were beaten 7-5 on the road by Sheffield Steeldogs last night (August 28) after sharing six goals with the same opponents at Planet Ice the previous evening.
And Koulikov took plenty of encouragement from both games – especially as he had three senior forwards missing all weekend while also giving netminding star Janis Auzins a Sunday off.
Koulikov said: “They were two tough games against Sheffield and that is exactly what we wanted for our first challenge clashes.
“Overall I’m pretty happy with where we are. I’ve seen some improvements during the course of the weekend and a lot of things that we can work on in the coming days.
“We’re in a pretty similar situation to two summers ago when we also had a high turnover of players. It is all about ensuring the guys gel tactically and technically.”
Ales Padelek levelled for Phantoms in the opening period last night after they had fallen behind when Pavel Mrna beat back-up netminder Adam Long with an unassisted strike.
The city men hit the front in the second stanza when Martins Susters struck seconds after sitting out a tripping penalty.
Goals either side of the half-hour mark from Tom Relf and Liam Kirk edged the Steeldogs back into an advantage which they surrendered when Owen Griffiths grabbed his first goal in a Phantoms shirt.
But three unanswered goals – provided by Kirk, Ash Calvert and Cole Shudra – put the home side in command before Phantoms staged a late rally courtesy of powerplay efforts from captain James Ferrara and Marc Levers after Long had been pulled on each occasion.
But an empty-net effort from Liam Charnock with five seconds remaining finally ended any hopes of a dramatic comeback.
Phantoms take on fierce rivals Milton Keynes this weekend in the traditional two-legged ‘Ashes’ clashes. They go to Buckinghamshire on Saturday (September 3, 7pm) ahead of a return clash at Planet Ice the following night (5.30pm).
New import forward Petr Stepanek is due to arrive in the country today after a stint in Australia while new British capture James Archer is scheduled to touch down on Thursday after a spell in New Zealand. Will Weldon will also be available against MK.