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Manchester Phoenix will be out for revenge when they return to the scene of their 8-2 thumping by Milton Keynes Lightning tomorrow night before Swindon Wildcats visit Altrincham on Sunday.
Phoenix player-coach Tony Hand is back at the helm after guiding Great Britain to their biggest result in nearly 80 years last weekend. Wins over Romania and Japan booked the national team's place in the final qualifying round for the 2014 Winter Olympics in what Hand described as a "huge moment" for the sport in the UK.
Without the veteran forward leading the first line and marshalling the troops from the bench, Phoenix held off a comeback from Peterborough Phantoms to win 7-5 at home on Saturday (pictured) before slumping to a 4-1 loss at bottom club Telford Tigers.
A trip to the Lightning provides the perfect motivation to get back to winning ways – particularly after that early season mauling. But while Phoenix have been in imperious form at home, with eight wins on the bounce, they have not travelled well. Four of the team's five defeats have come on the road.
Milton Keynes' new Czech forward Kamil Tvrdek will be playing his first game against the Phoenix, while Leigh Jamieson returns from his heroics with Team GB in Japan.
Lightning player-coach Nick Poole told the club's website: "Everyone involved with the Lightning was incredibly proud of Jaimo for his Olympic pre-qualifier call up – not just for his selection, but for getting on the score sheet with a goal and assist as well as earning Man of the Match in the game against Romania.
"It's ironic that in his first game back he'll play against his Team GB coach but hopefully he'll carry on that great form from the weekend and help us get the right result."
Sunday's game with Swindon promises plenty of goals. The Wildcats are the fourth-highest scorers in the league behind Guildford Flames, Phoenix and Bracknell Bees, but they have also shipped a hefty 71 goals – the joint highest total in the EPL.
Phoenix, meanwhile, have bagged 23 goals in last their last three home games, with all three lines chipping in. Imports Joachim Flaten (14) and Michal Psurny (13) lead the scoring charts but Andy McKinney, Ciaran Long, Scott McKenzie and big defenceman Robert Schabel have all been getting in on the act in recent weeks.
The visit of the Wildcats also promises to be a feisty affair, with Swindon enforcer Nicky Watt set to cross the path of Phoenix assistant captain James Archer again after their scrap in the season's first meeting at the Ice Dome.
"It is another tough weekend for us, but we have had a good week of training and are focussed on good results," Hand said.
"It is always difficult in Milton Keynes but we are a match for any team and go there in good spirits.
"Swindon are a free-scoring side and we will have to be on our guard on Sunday if we are to continue our great run of home results. The fans have been great all season and their encouragement is a real boost to the team."
By Andy Jowett
Pic: Räi Pekkänen