The Peterborough Phantoms push for honours starts with a challenge match double header against MK Lightning

It’s challenge match action for Peterborough Phantoms ice hockey team this weekend, but it’s also the start of the push to bring more silverware to Planet Ice.

By Alan Swann
Friday, 10th September 2021, 10:00 am
Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov wants more trophies.
Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov wants more trophies.

The city skaters are at local rivals MK Lighting on Saturday (September 11) before hosting the same opponents 24 hours later (September 12, 5.30pm start) in a pre-season challenge double-header.

It’s the first chance to test out tactics and formations. It’s also the last chance as the National League Cup starts the following weekend when Phantoms travel to Basingstoke on Saturday, September 18 before again taking on MK at Planet Ice the following day.

They will be the first competitive matches Phantoms have played for 18 months because of Covid.

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New Phantoms signing Luc Johnson. Photo: Kat Medcroft.

Popular, and very successful Phantoms coach, Slava Koulikov said: “After 18 months out the goals are to get our philosophy into the players and get back on track technically and tactically.

“We have ambitions of what we want to achieve, but they can only start once our short term goals get put into place.

“On paper, we have a good roster and, as every year, we want to compete for every trophy available to us. That is our simple goal as a team.

“We’ve never dealt with a situation like the one caused by Covid and it’s going to take all the teams time to adjust.

“But ultimately, the goal is to challenge for silverware and that’s exactly what we’ll set out to do.

“It’s actually a really exciting time to finally be preparing for a new season in the knowledge that it’s definitely going to happen this time.

“We’ve been off the ice and out of the rink for such a long time, everyone’s itching to get back out there to do what we all love.

“After such a long break, it might take a few of the guys a little bit longer to shake off the cobwebs, but that will be the case for most of the players across the league.

“We’re certainly excited to get back to playing in front of our fantastic fans as we’ve missed them.”

It’s cup matches all the way for Phantoms until the National League campaign starts in Basingstoke on October 16. The city side entertain Leeds in their first home match the following day.

The league season will run until April 3 and the play-offs will follow before finals weekend in Coventry on April 30/May 1.

Phantoms also play Basingstoke, Bees, Raiders and Swindon, Sheffield and Telford in their cup group.

Under Koulikov Phantoms won the 2014-15 play-offs and a terrific treble in the 2018-19 season of Autumn Cup, National Cup and the National South play-offs.

They also finished runners-up in the National play-off final that year to add to a National Cup runners-up finish in the 2015-16 season.

Phantoms have yet to name their captain for this season, but they have a powerful-looking roster which includes new signings Duncan Speirs, Morgan Clarke-Pizzo, Luc Johnson and Jasper Foster.

Long-serving Jason Buckman will again be Koulikov’s assistant coach.

Phantoms Roster

Netminders: Jordan Marr, Ryan Bainborough.

Defencemen: Tom Norton, Scott Robson, Bradley Bowering, Billy Thorpe, Joe Gretton, Callum Buglass, Tom Barry, Nathan Long.

Forwards: Nathan Pollard, Luc Johnson, Will Weldon, Duncan Speirs, Corey McEwen, Glenn Billing, Ross Clarke, Ales Padelek, Jasper Foster, Jarvis Hunt.