Peterborough Phantoms could hardly have clinched their spot in the semi-finals of the English Premier League Cup and powered into a share of the leadership in more emphatic fashion last night (November 8).
In fact, such was the city side’s superiority over basement side Hull Pirates, there was only one question on everyone’s lips at Planet Ice in the wake of this sporting slaughter – how the hell had they managed to lose the reverse fixture a fortnight earlier?
The answer to that question remains a mystery, but the response was mightily impressive as Slava Koulikov’s men dished out a double-figures destruction of the newest and, currently at least, worst team in the EPL.
The 11-0 romp, spearheaded by a four-goal salvo from the brilliant Milan Baranyk, carried them into a three-way tie at the top of the standings along with Milton Keynes and Basingstoke. But Phantoms appear to be in the strongest position of all as they boast one game in hand on the Bison and three on fierce rivals Lightning.
They can also lay claim to being the most prolific and miserly team in the second tier with last night’s success boosting their records in both departments.
Phantoms’ 74-goal tally is only bettered by Milton Keynes’ 80 (although they would certainly expect to score more than six goals in their quota of games in hand) while the 40 goals they’ve conceded is the lowest tally by far.
Coach Koulikov said: “We put the game to bed in the first period. The guys knew what happened in Hull two weeks ago and they knew we could not afford a repeat at home.
“They came out firing, took control very early on, scored some very good goals and delivered on everything I asked of them.
“I’m really pleased with the performance and also the fact we have met our first big objective for the season in clinching a semi-final place in the cup.
“It is one of the three trophies available and we want to be challenging for silverware as we try to build on the success of last season.”
Much of the damage was done in the opening period last night with seven of the goals arriving before the first buzzer to leave teenage Pirates netminder Ashley Smith bewildered.
Smith is the son of the Hull owner so it might have been prudent for his defenceman to have provided him with considerably better protection than he was given.
Far too many of Phantoms’ goals were scored in far too easy fashion and Hull should probably be thankful import forward Darius Pliskauskas was not risked after being on the receiving end of a late hit which put him out of their overtime loss at Telford 24 hours earlier.
Captain James Ferrara broke the deadlock at 5:12 before Ales Padelek (who later enjoyed a few shifts as a D-man) and Baranyk netted just six seconds apart at 8:43 and 8:49 respectively.
A first-ever Phantoms goal for popular defenceman Greg Pick earned the biggest cheer of the night at 13:33 and the lamp continued to be lit on a regular basis from more frequent scorers.
Baranyk struck at 14:45 and 19:01 to complete a hat-trick in little more than 10 minutes before Craig Scott pounced on his own rebound to continue the torment five seconds before the sides headed back to the locker rooms.
It was no surprise that Smith was replaced by import goalie Jon Baston – a man reportedly carrying a facial injury - for the second period although the new arrival was beaten little more than two minutes after taking to the ice as Will Weldon touched in a Tom Norton blast at 22:19.
There was actually a double netminding change ahead of the middle session as Adam Long took his place in the Phantoms crease with Janis Auzins given the remainder of the night off.
Twenty year-old Long delivered an accomplished display during his 40 minutes of action to ensure a joint shut-out for the two Phantoms goalies whereas the highlight for Hull was going almost half-an-hour without conceding.
Phantoms had to wait until the final half of the final period to add to their eight earlier goals. Captain Ferrara moved them to within touching distance of double figures at 50:25 before they accomplished that mission with precisely 100 seconds to spare as Baranyk coolly and casually tucked away his fourth of the night.
There was still time for one further goal as Marc Levers steered the puck past Baston from the most acute of angles at 58:58 to spark a stick-throwing tantrum from the beleaguered Pirates netminder who benched himself for the remaining minute with Smith sent back into action.
It meant Phantoms equalled the biggest winning margin in the EPL so far this season. Fellow pacesetters Milton Keynes also dished out an 11-0 drubbing to Hull recently.
Phantoms are back in action on Sunday (November 15, 5.30pm) when Sheffield Steeldogs visit Planet Ice in the first of three successive weekends currently scheduled to feature only one fixture apiece.
5:12 J. Ferrara ass: Baranyk/Levers
8:43 Padelek (PP) ass: Scott/Susters
8:49 Baranyk ass: Levers
13:33 Pick ass: Scott
14:45 Baranyk ass: Robson
19:01 Baranyk ass: Scott/J. Ferrara
19:55 Scott unassisted
22:19 Weldon ass: Norton/Susters
50:25 J. Ferrara ass: Levers
58:20 Baranyk ass: Robson
58:58 Levers ass: Gibson/J. Ferrara
Phantoms – Milan Baranyk
Hull – Warren Tait