Leeds Knights coach Ryan Aldridge on Peterborough Phantoms and the play-off threat posed by Luke Ferrara

LEEDS KNIGHTS may have enjoyed all the bragging rights against Peterborough Phantoms during the NIHL National regular season – but head coach Ryan Aldridge is taking nothing for granted this weekend.

Six times the two teams met, six times the Knights emerged victorious, on a couple of occasions handsomely so, in particular their 7-0 win in Peterborough in February – a win that went some way to exorcising the 6-0 National Cup semi-final first leg defeat the Knight suffered at the hands of the Phantoms the previous year.

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But all previous wins and losses count for little as the two teams come head to head in the second weekend of Group A play-off action, when their respective 100 per cent records will be on the line.

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TOUGH TEST: Leeds Knights' head coach, Ryan Aldridge. Picture: Bruce RollinsonTOUGH TEST: Leeds Knights' head coach, Ryan Aldridge. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
TOUGH TEST: Leeds Knights' head coach, Ryan Aldridge. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

While the Knights were beating Hull Seahawks twice last weekend, the Phantoms were enjoying the same success against Bees.

Another four-point weekend for either side will guarantee a place in Coventry for the Final Four Weekend on April 27-28.

But as much as Aldridge would like his team to get their passage to the Skydome Arena sewn up this weekend, he does not expect it to be easy to achieve against a Slava Koulikov team that has former GB international Luke Ferrara at the heart of its offence.

As captain Kieran Brown is for the Knights, Ferrara is Peterborough’s ‘stud’ – finishing fourth in the overall scoring for the league during the regular season with 50 goals and 56 assists in his first campaign since switching from the Elite League, where he spent eight seasons, the majority with Coventry Blaze.

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“Ferrara has been one of the stars of the league this year, absolutely,” said Aldridge. “They’ve got a number of players that can hurt you but Ferrara is a goalscorer, he can put the puck in the net from anywhere.

“So we’ve obviously got to watch him at all times – we know he’s a key guy to look at, but then there is (Lukas) Sladovsky, (Martins) Susters, they’ve got several guys who can hurt you.”

On his team’s start to the post-season, Aldridge was delighted with their approach to both games against Hull.

"There was a buzz, particularly after Friday night at ours,” he added. “There were things we talked about before the game and the boys really came out and played their game.

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“I’ve been saying it for two years, every time I panic about them showing up in big games – apart from cup games – they have done.

"It could have got ugly a few times in Hull but the boys just concentrated on the win and playing their game.

“The week before, in Hull, it could have got heated a couple of times and that was my worry going into Sunday – but the boys reacted again, surprised me and proved me wrong.”