Head coach Slava Koulikov insists Peterborough Phantoms will take nothing for granted after gaining control of the NIHL South Cup final last night (February 28).
The double-chasing city side enjoyed a 2-1 success at Basingstoke in the opening leg of a showpiece clash which will be competed at Planet Ice on March 13.
Phantoms were indebted to netminder Jordan Marr for a string of fine saves which included keeping out a penalty shot from Bison man Adam Jones in the second period.
Phantoms led at that point courtesy of Ales Padelek’s opener and fellow forward Corey McEwen pounced to double the advantage early in the second period.
Basingstoke player-coach Ashley Tait halved his side’s arrears little more than two minutes later, but it was the visitors who remained ahead to hold the edge at the halfway point as they bid to follow up their NIHL Autumn Cup triumph earlier in the season with another helping of silverware.
However, Koulikov was quick to admit the fact Bison have twice tasted victory at Planet Ice already this season means the tie is far from over.
He said: “We didn’t play that well in the first period but we got back into the dressing room at 0-0 as our netminder stood tall.
“Jordan been a franchise player for us with big performances in big games and this was another of them.
“We corrected a few things during the break before the second period and we were then the better team for the rest of the game.
“We knew the chances of either side building a big lead were very slim, but we’re happy to have the one-goal cushion and I feel my guys deserved the win.
“However, know the job is only half-done and it is all still to play or in the second leg.
“Basingstoke are the kind of team who never give up. They showed that at 2-0 down last night and they have also won in our rink this season.
“We all know that Wednesday is not our hockey night, but hopefully we can get the building full on March 13 and the fans can create the same sort of fantastic atmosphere as they did when we faced Sheffield in the other final.”
Phantoms and Basingstoke are also battling for second spot in the NIHL Division One South standings behind champions elect Swindon.
The city side currently boast a two-point cushion over their Hampshire rivals and they have the opportunity to extend that when going to Streatham tomorrow (March 2, 5.30pm) ahead of a Sunday (March 3, 5.30pm) home date against basement boys Invicta.
46.38 Tait ass: King/Klejna
25.21 Padelek ass: Billing
44.36 McEwen unassisted
BASINGSTOKE – Michal Klejna
PHANTOMS – Jordan Marr