Peterborough Phantoms are relishing another crack at the title favourites

Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov addresses his troops.
Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov addresses his troops.
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Peterborough Phantoms chief Slava Koulikov believes his team were beaten by the NIHL National Division champions last Saturday.

The city men gave a pleasing account of themselves despite going down to an 8-5 defeat at table-topping title favourites Swindon.

Corey McEwen celebrates his hat-trick for Phantoms against London Raiders last weekend. Photo: Tom Scott.

Corey McEwen celebrates his hat-trick for Phantoms against London Raiders last weekend. Photo: Tom Scott.

And they are relishing the prospect of facing Swindon again this Sunday (November 17, 5.30pm) when the Wiltshire side make their first visit of the season to Planet Ice.

“There is no doubt it is Swindon’s league to lose,” insisted Koulikov.

“They have improved individually and collectively from last season and have a really good coach.

“We managed to lead them and match them for a lot of the game last weekend, but they were able to step it up when they really needed to.

“Not getting anything from a game we did so well in is obviously a negative, but there were many positives to take.

“We were the first team to score a powerplay goal in their building all season and we also stopped their top line, who have been doing so much damage, from getting any points at all.

“But Swindon are stacked with quality all the way through their line-up and other guys stepped up for them.

“We have another chance to test ourselves against them again on Sunday and we know that we need everyone to be at their best.

“If we get that we can compete and beat them.”

The Wildcats are three points clear of second-placed Telford, but have played one more game than their closest challengers.

The title race could become a two-horse race with third-placed Basingstoke and Phantoms, who sit in fourth, already a further six points back.

Phantoms quickly bounced back from the disappointment of leaving Swindon empty-handed when thrashing Raiders 10-1 last Sunday.

Their biggest win of the campaign was a product of what Koulikov called a ‘60-minute performance’.

“I’m really pleased for the players and also for the fans who saw a lot of goals, a lot of hits and a fight at the end,” added Koulikov. “The rink was almost full and everyone got plenty of entertainment.

“I know the guys felt they could have got something out of the game in Swindon and their hunger for a win was clear to see against Raiders.

“Earlier in the season we were struggling for goals, but now we are one of the highest scoring teams.”

Phantoms start this weekend with a trip to Hull tomorrow (November 16, 6pm).