Phantoms go into tonight’s Autumn Cup semi-final showdown with Swindon coach Aaron Nell proclaiming that this season’s Phantoms are tougher to beat than last season’s team. Phantoms take a single goal advantage into tonight’s second leg which faces off at 7:30pm.
Coach Nell was full of praise for Phantoms ahead of the game, “I thought Phantoms were excellent last week, it was the best game of hockey we’ve had this year. They’re very good, they worked hard, and they’ve got a different team compared to last season – I believe they’re tougher to play against. It’s going to be a great test …… the game is just as important for them as it is for us.”
“Phantoms skate well and have good organisation ….. when they spot a time to apply pressure they will do it hard, and they do it together. Especially in the second period last Friday, they penned us in our end at times and it was tough for us. We were happy to leave with the result we got, and we need to learn from that. Being one goal behind makes it tight but we’ve got to skate positively and try to express ourselves. Working hard and playing together will be key ….. If we do that, we’re a good team. It will be an exciting game for sure.”
Phantoms coach, Slava Koulikov, is out to the win the second leg and treat the game as a one-off fixture, “we can’t think about trying to defend a lead on aggregate. It is the wrong mentality to have. Swindon are the best team in the league by far and we produced one of the best performances I’ve seen from my guys to beat them in our rink. Guys put their bodies on the line all over the ice and there was not a single poor performance out there but now it is a new day and a new game which starts at 0-0”.
“I’m sure Swindon will think they can turn it around on home ice but there is more pressure on them and that will only build as the game goes on if it doesn’t go the way they want or expect. We have to be sure we get our gameplan right and stick to it. We have had success in Swindon before and we all want to make that final.”
The winners of tonight’s game will face Sheffield Steeldogs in the two-legged final and will have choice of whether to play the home leg first or second.
The Phantoms Live Lounge will be open from 7:15pm tonight for all the live action from rinkside.