Import star Ales Padelek insists Phantoms are relishing the challenge of facing trophy favourites Swindon in the NIHL Autumn Cup semi-finals.
The city team entertain the Wildcats at Planet Ice tomorrow night (Friday, 7.30pm) in a first leg which is followed by a return clash in Wiltshire next Friday.
Phantoms go into battle on a high thanks to a nine-game winning streak and Padelek admits they would love to avenge their exit at the same stage of the same competition to the same opponents last season when pipped on penalties.
“We’re playing well as a team and the lines are really starting to click,” said Padelek.
“We’re controlling games and it is great to be picking up wins. I’m definitely enjoying hockey at the moment!
“I feel this year that everything works in the changing room. We have a really talented bunch of juniors who are working hard and learning all the time from the older guys.
“But we know we will face a very good Swindon team who are full of top players. They are capable of scoring a lot of goals and we need to be prepared for that.
“They have not really changed the structure of their team from last year. They still have the same imports and lots of good Brits.
“It’s an important game and we all want to win silverware after what happened last season. We have to play to the max for 60 minutes – or possibly more – in both legs and fight for everything.”
Padelek (38) appears to be returning to his best form. He has already contributed eight goals (three of which arrived last weekend) and 10 assists this term.
Two of those strikes came against Raiders last Saturday when Padelek’s father, Ivan, was among the crowd after flying in from the Czech Republic.
Padelek snr, himself a former player who starred as a netminder and went on to enjoy a coaching career, took part in the club’s ‘Dads’ Night’ with the fathers of many of the Phantoms players and coaches in attendance as guests.
“It was lovely to have my dad here for a few days,” added Padelek. “It’s the first time he has seen me play for a while and it was great to be able to score some goals in front of him. He has a heart for hockey and gave everything to the sport.”
Ice hockey certainly runs in the family as Padelek’s older brother, also called Ivan, enjoyed a fine career at the top level in the Czech Republic.