Sunday: Phantoms v Bracknell Bees – Face-Off 5:30pm
NIHL1 South and NIHL Cup Qualifying
What’s at Stake ?
Phantoms will be testing themselves against the current NIHL1 South leaders as well as keeping up their race to make the semi-finals of the NIHL Cup where they sit in a similar position to the league. Phantoms need eight points from their last six cup games to be certain of qualification but are likely to get there with less.
Current Form ?
Bees Players to Watch ?
The only ex-Phantom on the team is D-man from last season Ed Knaggs.
Top scorer is import forward Roman Malinik but livewire Ivan Antonov will be the usual pain in the proverbial and will do damage if not kept under wraps. With the likes of Ryan Watt, Scott Spearing and James Galazzi in their ranks, Bees will be no shrinking violets if the game gets lively !
What to Expect ?
With a significant migration of coaches and players from Basingstoke, Bees were tipped by many to be a shoe-in for this season’s league title but an evident lack of goal scoring prowess (ranked 6 of 8 in the league) has left them scratching for narrow wins even against sides they should be overwhelming. They are a very well organised team under a very experienced coach in Doug Sheppard and while just over three goals scored per game will be of concern to them, they are only conceding just over two per game, hence their league position.
First of all, Phantoms will need to clear their heads of whatever happens on Friday night at Swindon …… this isn’t a game to approach over-confident or with heads down ! Eight out of the last nine Bees games have been won or lost by two goals or less so this will be a tight game and, as with last weekend’s Bison game, it will be a question of whether Phantoms can convert enough chances to stay safe. Disciplined defensive work and keeping five players on the ice are a must but if Phantoms tick those boxes then look for a 4-2 home win !