Another depleted Peterborough Phantoms team dished out another English Challenge Cup drubbing last night (December 28).
Luke Ferrara hit a hat-trick of goals and player-coach Slava Koulikov marked his return from injury by notching a treble of assists as lower-level Billingham were bashed 9-3 in a high-scoring showdown at Planet Ice.
Just as when thumping Blackburn 7-1 a fortnight ago, it was another simple assignment for a city side featuring several youngsters. Defenceman Edgars Apelis was the only import to be pressed into action while a host of senior British players, including captain James Ferrara, also had the night off.
Koulikov, who had been sidelined for five weeks with a fractured wrist, said: “It was a good feeling to be back on the ice with the guys and we enjoyed our last game of the year.
“We had a bit of trouble in the second period when we lost focus and allowed Billingham to score a couple of goals, but it was a comfortable win overall.
“It was hard work for me after being out for so long, but this was an ideal game to return in and start building my fitness up again.”
Teenager Martins Susters saw his early opener cancelled out but a pair of Luke Ferrara goals, which sandwiched a Will Weldon effort, had Phantoms in command by the first buzzer.
The second period was drawn as a Tom Norton blast and Ferrara’s hat-trick goal came either side of a brace for visiting player Thomas Stuart-Dant.
But Phantoms were back on top in the closing session as Weldon bagged his second, Brad Moore hit a first senior goal for the club and Nathan Pollard deftly completed the scoring to emphasise the gulf in class between English Premier League and English National League levels.
Phantoms had just over six minutes in which to strike again to bring up double-figures, but some smart saves from local boy Josh Wicks, borrowed by Billingham for the night, kept them at bay.
Wicks, who usually plays for Phantoms Under 18s, wasn’t disgraced despite conceding close to one in three (nine of 30) of the shots he faced while Phantoms custodian Dan Lane will certainly have been disappointed by the second of the three goals he let in.
Phantoms return to the heat of EPL battle this weekend when taking on the teams at opposite ends of the table. Basement boys Bracknell visit the city on Saturday (January 3) ahead of a trip to table-topping Telford the following night.
6:48 Susters ass: Robson
10:34 L. Ferrara ass: Koulikov
14:43 Weldon ass: L. Ferrara/McGiffin
17:25 L. Ferrrara ass: Weldon/Koulikov
28:40 Norton ass Susters
39:53 L. Ferrara ass: Robson
40:19 Weldon ass: Koulikov/Apelis
44:00 Moore ass: Pick
53:57 Pollard ass: Moore/Buckman
9:43 Windridge (PP) ass: Stuart-Dant/Sykes
29:52 Stuart-Dant ass: Campbell/Sykes
36:01 Stuart-Dant ass: Campbell/Davison
Phantoms – Martins Susters
Billingham – Andrew Munroe