EPL preview: Koulikov “not afraid” of Lightning

Peterborough Phantoms’ boss Slava Koulikov says MK Lightning are favourites to win the EPL Cup, but believes his players can claim the prize if they stick to their game plan.

The Phantoms host Lightning on Sunday ahead of a return leg in Milton Keynes the following Saturday and Koulikov is relishing the opportunity to face Pete Russell’s team in the final.

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“If MK show up on the night, it shouldn’t even be a contest – they have lots of big-name players and are loaded with skill and talent,” he told Peterborough Today.

“They are second in the table and looked like they were going to challenge for the title for the most of the season.

“MK have to be big favourites. We have big respect for them, but we’re certainly not afraid of them. We will focus on sticking to our game plan and working as a team, as we always do. That is the way we have enjoyed success in recent years.

“The format makes it a mini-series – I treat it as three games – the first leg, the second leg and then a mini-game at the end if overtime and penalties are required.

“We want to play well, try to win the game at home and put two points on the board. Our record on our own ice is strong and the fans are a big part of that.

“They are always behind us regardless of whether we are winning, trailing, playing well or not quite firing.

“We’ve worked really hard to get into this position and we need to ensure we leave everything out there on the ice.”

Swindon Wildcats defender Lee Richardson believes his team’s tough end to the campaign will stand them in good stead for the play-offs.

The Wildcats host Hull Pirates on Saturday, before completing their regular season fixtures with a double-header against Basingstoke Bison next weekend.

The Wiltshire outfit go into the Pirates game level on points with fifth-placed Guildford Flames and Richardson thinks having something to aim for will be beneficial further down the line.

“We’re in a nice position really – some teams don’t have much to play for, so for us to be in a battle for fifth does give us something to play for leading into the play-offs,” he told the club’s official website.

“Psychologically it can be hard to play games if you have nothing to play for – thankfully, we have some tough games ahead of the play-offs.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

Guildford Flames v Peterborough Phantoms
MK Lightning v Bracknell Bees
Sheffield Steeldogs v Telford Tigers
Swindon Wildcats v Hull Pirates

Sunday

Bracknell Bees v Sheffield Steeldogs
Peterborough Phantoms v MK Lightning (Cup)
Telford Tigers v Guildford Flames

(Image permission: Lucy McGill)

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