More of the same will do coach Koulikov nicely
Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov has told his players they set the benchmark last weekend.
Koulikov was thrilled by the displays produced in a 3-1 victory against Swindon which arrived 24 hours after a defeat at reigning champions Basingstoke by the same scoreline.
And he expects the same level of performance to be repeated on a regular basis during the remainder of the English Premier League campaign – starting when Phantoms hit their home ice on Saturday night to entertain early-season revelations Hull (7pm).
The Pirates have enjoyed a terrific start to their second season and sit in third position in the standings after winning two-thirds of their games to date.
Koulikov’s men then hit the road on Sunday with a trip to Telford (6pm) to take on a table-topping Tigers side, who are yet to taste defeat in regulation time. All three reverses have been in overtime.
Koulikov said: “It is important to have the standard of performance that we produced last weekend every time we play.
“We addressed a few things ahead of last weekend and the response I got from the guys was terrific.
“We did everything but win in Basingstoke and then came up with a hugely important result against a Swindon team on a real hot streak.
“We played for the full 60 minutes on both nights and we need that relentless work to give ourselves a chance of winning games.
“The togetherness of the guys has really impressed me even though things have not been going great lately. We had a lot of changes in the summer, but the positivity and spirit that has always been such a big thing for us is still there.”
Phantoms continue to be one of the lowest-scoring teams in the second tier with 31 goals in 12 games to date.
Only the two teams below them in the table, Bracknell (29) and Manchester (27) have lit the lamp on fewer occasions.
Phantoms have also struggled in powerplay situations with just five of their goals arriving when boasting a numerical advantage, but it is a situation Koulikov expects to improve in the coming weeks.
He added: “The number of goals we are scoring is gradually going up and that is what we hoped would happen after introducing another import forward to our roster.
“The powerplay unit hasn’t really been firing this season, but there have been signs in the last couple of weekends that it is starting to get going.
“We scored two PP goals in Swindon recently and one in the next game at home to Sheffield, and while we didn’t get any last weekend, the puck movement was generally good.
“It was disappointing not to be able to take advantage of the two spells of five-on-three we had against Swindon, but I don’t think it will be long before we get our percentage up.”
Import forward Ales Padelek is expected to return this weekend after sitting out the success against Swindon.
British forward Sam Towner is the likeliest of the club’s other casualties to return after suffering concussion in an October 8 loss at Swindon.