Now the boot is on the other foot for table-toppers

Ales Padelek scores Phantoms only successful penalty against MK Thunder. Picture: Tom Scott
Ales Padelek scores Phantoms only successful penalty against MK Thunder. Picture: Tom Scott
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Captain James Ferrara admits Phantoms are getting a taste of their own medicine this season.

The city club built a reputation of defensive hockey in recent years. It was an approach which enabled them to punch above their weight and challenge for trophies in the English Premier League.

But with a switch into the new second tier of the sport – NIHL Division One South – came a shift in approach. Phantoms now like to play their hockey on the front foot and were rewarded with a host of high-scoring wins in the early weeks of the season.

But the table-toppers have found the going much tougher in recent outings, falling to three defeats in their past four matches in all competitions. Two of those have been on home ice.

“The boot is on the other foot now to some extent,” said Ferrara. “We used to be the team trying to stifle top sides, but now we’re finding other teams are coming to do that to us.

“Everyone has seen how well we have started the season and they now seem to be rising to the challenge when they come to our building, perhaps going above and beyond their expectations.

“Our smaller rink now suits visiting teams a bit more at this level than it might have done more skilful sides in the EPL in the past.

“We’ve got to find a way to rise above it. We’re creating some really good chances, but perhaps not enough of them.

“We’re having a lot more possession this season in games than we were used to in the EPL. Now we have the puck for longer, we have to work hard with it and carve out the opportunities.

“We just need to dig deep to get through this period and pick up the points. We have the characters to do that.

“We’re playing a more attacking brand of hockey and that is the right style of play against the vast majority of teams in this league. Sometimes it comes down to being a little bit smarter.

“We don’t need to worry, but we do need to make some slight adjustments. We have a lot of quality and attacking flair, and also a lot of goals in our line-up.

“We also have a great coach who will come up with the right tactics and systems, and we’re still in a really good position.”

Phantoms are the second highest scorers in NIHL Division One South with 66 goals in 12 games. Second-placed Bracknell have managed one more in one fewer outing.