Our final NIHL1 South Season preview for 2018-19 team takes a look at the Peterborough Phantoms. Club captain James Ferrara gives us his thoughts.
Hi everyone, it is a pleasure to be writing some words in anticipation for the new NIHL season.
In reflection of last season, coming from a Phantoms perspective, I think it took us some time to adapt to the new league and structure. We started well results wise, but with new rinks and players I think it was difficult to be 100% ready to play with question marks over what to expect.
I feel that as the season progressed we learnt many lessons and were very unlucky not to have won the league. I am disappointed in our cup runs, and our playoff semi-final against Telford. I felt we had more potential than we showed for a number of different reasons. I am proud of our successes and the way we developed as a team. It was a fun season, one I thoroughly enjoyed, but still feel like we deserved more.
It always disappointment to see guys leave who have given their best efforts and who you make good friends with. We lost some great people and hockey players in Leigh Jamieson, Nathan Salem and Ben Russell. Darius Pliskauska has also been one of our top players and so it was sad to hear of his departure, I was good friends with him but things happen and we all move on. He has certainly left his mark on the clubs history.
Euan King had re-signed but although he’s since left, I am pleased to hear of his coaching position earned within the EIHA. I’ve known Euan a long time and know he’ll be very successful in his new ventures going forward.
Lastly, a special mention to Greg Pick who had retired to join the police force. The ultimate team guy, a great character a friend to many who always gave his all. His police unit will be stronger having him around, and we all wish him the best of luck.
Looking ahead to this season, I continue to believe in the philosophy of Slava and his team. I believe in the signings he has made and that although we have a different look, we will still challenge on all fronts for silverware. Having started pre-season, I am incredibly impressed with the overall fitness of players coming into the season. We have worked hard and the signs already are that we will be ready come the first competitive fixtures.
I like many of our signings having played against them before. Jordan Marr is a great coup, he was a top net-minder when in Hull and he is looking sharp in training. I’m also pleased for Ryan Bainborough who has replaced Euan, I know he has worked hard over the years and has a great opportunity ahead of him.
Corey McEwan is an exciting prospect, it will be a pleasure to skate with him having grown up playing alongside his dad Doug when I was first making my mark in senior hockey. Harry Ferguson is another player who I have heard good things about, and I know he is hungry to continue his development with us.
Callum Buglass is a talented D-man who I think will have a good year. I am also happy with the re-signing of the big man Petr Stepanak. His skill set should be a real threat offensively this year.
I think we have a younger team overall, we have many talented young players who developed and proved themselves last year and look forward to them contributing further and adding real value to the team. Credit to the coaching team for the work they have done with the young guys, they will add real power to our strong group of core guys who continue to ply their trace in Peterborough.
Our core group of players will be our strength initially, and I think already the new guys have settled in well. I firmly believe we should have high aspirations, but also believe we have stiff competition from the likes of Swindon, Bracknell, London, and even Basingstoke despite their many player changes.
I think all the teams have strengthened on paper, but they will have to show their strength as a unit to be successful. No team will be an easy team to beat, but to us that’s an exciting prospect. Too many times last year we would take our foot off the pedal, and I think the added competition will help us grow and stay focused over the course of the season.
I’m happy with the cup formats, and again we are aspirational in our pursuit of silverware, something which we were so close to achieving last year. I look forward to the season ahead and seeing the fans enjoy the hockey.