Phantoms have to make every shift count says Slava

Head coach Slava Koulikov wants Phantoms to deliver a pair of 60-minute performances this weekend.

Thursday, 21st September 2017, 9:45 am
Updated Thursday, 21st September 2017, 9:47 am
Goalscorer James White in action against Bracknell Bees. Picture: Tom Scott

The city team face two National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) Division One South tests in as many days with a Saturday home date against Streatham (7pm) followed by a Sunday trip to MK Thunder (6.30pm).

Phantoms kicked off their league challenge with 4-2 success against Bracknell last weekend, but then suffered a 6-3 defeat in a National Cup group game at Hull the following evening.

Koulikov was able to pick out plenty of positives from both games and also identified areas for improvement as is to be expected at such an early stage of the campaign.

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Will Weldon turns away in celebration after scrambling the puck home against Bracknell. Picture: Tom Scott

“It was important to pick up a win in our first game,” said Koulikov.

“We had decent first and third periods but didn’t read the game well enough at times in the second period when Bracknell went hard at us.

“They are definitely going to be a tough team to beat, so the two points were the most important thing.

“We paid the price for starting the game too slowly in Hull, but I saw a lot of character from my guys.

Will Weldon turns away in celebration after scrambling the puck home against Bracknell. Picture: Tom Scott

“We were 3-0 and 5-1 down in that game, but never looked like giving up and with a bit more luck could have pulled it back. We got better progressively and absolutely dominated the final period.

“But we can’t afford to find ourselves in situations like that on a regular basis and the next challenge is to perform for 60 minutes every night.

“A team can play well for 55 minutes, but still lose the game in the other five. We have to make every shift in every period count.

“Streatham and MK Thunder are two teams we haven’t faced before and ideally we would like to win both games.

“We’ve had a good home record in the last three years and that will be important again - and we’re also looking to get results on the road.

The Streatham side features plenty of familiar faces from the English Premier League era, including Michael Farn and Adam Carr, who helped Milton Keynes Lightning to an honours double in the old second tier last season.

They thrashed Cardiff Fire – a side promoted to this level – 9-2 in their league opener last weekend.

MK Thunder have already competed four league fixtures, registering one win to date. That came against Invicta, but they did take former EPL outfit Swindon to overtime last weekend.