Praise for Peterborough Phantoms for defying considerable odds to reach National League play-off finals weekend

Peterborough Phantoms head coach Slava Koulikov heaped praise on his players after they upset the odds to qualify for the National League play-off finals this weekend.

By Tom Lea
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 7:20 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 11:36 am
Phantoms netminder Jordan Marr in action against Sheffield Steeldogs at Planet Ice. Photo: Darrill Stoddart.
Phantoms netminder Jordan Marr in action against Sheffield Steeldogs at Planet Ice. Photo: Darrill Stoddart.

Phantoms will tackle local rivals MK Lightning in their semi-final in Coventry on Saturday (5.30pm) with the final scheduled for the same venue the following day (4.30pm). Telford Tigers play Sheffield Steeldogs in the other semi-final on Saturday.

Phantoms topped their group after back-to-back wins over Sheffield, 6-3 away and 4-1 at Planet Ice. The city side finished sixth of nine teams in the end-of-season standings after a injury-ravaged campaign.

Koulikov said: “I want to say a huge congratulations to the guys for winning the cup group. We set out to do that and played some really good hockey along the way to achieve it. Every player believed in January after our bad run of form that we had a good chance of getting to this point if they all bought in and worked hard and huge credit has to go to the guys for this huge achievement. I can’t thank the guys enough for achieving a place in Coventry after the toughest season we’ve faced.

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Jasper Foster of Phantoms shoots just wide in the game against Sheffield. Photo: Darrill Stoddart

“It’s such a tough league and this weekend will be no different. All of the teams who have qualified have different styles and philosophies and it’s a one off game then another one off game for all four teams. It’s impossible to predict, but we’ll make sure we go into the weekend with confidence to give ourselves the best chance to win.

“Last weekend we had two good games. The first game had huge magnitude. We didn’t start well, but responded and grew into the game. Sheffield are a good team, they’ve won a cup this season for a reason and have threats all over the ice. But we kept their threats to a minimum and won the game with a really positive and confident performance.

“Sunday was about making sure we finished with a win at home and we managed to do that. Both teams knew we’d already qualified so we just wanted to put on a show for our fans and that’s what the guys did.”

Ales Padelek on the attack for Phantoms against Sheffield. Photo: Darrill Stoddart.