Phantoms make a ‘dream’ first signing for next season

Glenn Billing (left) receives one of his four awards from Slava Koulikov.
Glenn Billing (left) receives one of his four awards from Slava Koulikov.
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The first piece of the Phantoms jigsaw for 2018/19 is in place - and it’s a player described as a ‘coach’s dream’.

Impressive forward Glenn Billing was announced as the club’s first confirmed signing at their end-of-season awards bash last Friday night.

Billing (20) enjoyed a fine first campaign with Phantoms, recording 32 points in 31 regular-season outings as they agonisingly missed out on the NIHL Division One South title.

“It’ great to have Glenn back,” said head coach Slava Koulikov. “He is a very good and very intelligent player who had a fantastic first year with the club.

“Sometimes a young player needs time to find his feet, but that wasn’t the case with Glenn. He played on main lines and in important moments in big games

“His work ethic and his desire to improve are incredible. He is a coach’s dream and it would be perfect to have 12 guys like him.”

Koulikov is already working hard to tie down plenty of other players after completing a review of a frustrating 2017/18 campaign.

Not only did Phantoms miss out on title glory to Basingstoke on goal difference, they were also pipped by a controversial goal from the same opponents in the play-off final.

They also went out at the semi-final stage of the NIHL Autumn Cup and the season-closing NIHL Final Four weekend.

Koulikov added: “We’ve reviewed last season in detail and the work to build the roster for next year is in progress.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of guys already and I’ll be catching up with others in the coming days.

“I don’t want to change too much but we know the direction we want to go in.”

Import forward Darius Pliskauskas is expected to need summer surgery on the knee injury which cut short his season.

Phantoms award-winners:

Coaches’ Player of the Year – Glenn Billing.

Players’ Player of the Year – Glenn Billing.

Most Improved Player – Nathan Long.

Young Player of the Year - Glenn Billing.

Defenceman of the Year – Robbie Ferrara.

Forward of the Year – Nathan Salem.

Phanforce Player of the Year – Owen Griffiths.

Phanforce Development Player of the Year – Glenn Billing.

Unsung Hero – Charlie Chaplin.

Award-winners for the Phantoms’ second team – formerly known as Islanders - in NIHL South Division Two:

Coaches’ Player of the Year – Craig Wallis.

Players’ Player of the Year – Kenny Bavin.

Defenceman of the Year – Craig Wallis.

Forward of the Year – Conor Pollard.

Most Improved Player of the Year – Callum Medcalf.