Don’t be fooled by the scoreline . . . this was no cakewalk for Peterborough Phantoms last night (October 25).
The city side might have collected an ultimately convincing 8-3 success over short-benched Manchester at Planet Ice – but for two periods they were in a proper game.
It wasn’t until a goal blitz in the closing stages of the middle session that they stamped their authority on the contest after being behind on three occasions.
They struck twice in the space of 20 seconds to turn a deficit into a first advantage and then also claimed a fortunate fifth goal just over a minute later for good measure.
That scoring salvo proved enough to break the resistance of a Phoenix side short on manpower and further strikes followed regularly in a final stanza which was one-way traffic.
But coach Slava Koulikov was quick to admit: “Manchester played really well in the beginning to lead three times.
“We were probably guilty of underestimating them and we started to force things and make the sort of plays that we shouldn’t be making as it wasn’t going our way.
“But the guys deserve a lot of praise for getting the goals to put us ahead late in the second period rather than letting their heads drop.
“We re-grouped at the break and then finished the job in the final period, but I want to give plenty of credit to Manchester, who were very dangerous on the puck and forced our netminder Janis Auzins into some big saves.”
Phantoms were behind for 58 seconds early on as Craig Scott cancelled out a powerplay opener from Pheonix import Stanislav Gron.
There were no further breakthroughs in a 36-shots opening session which set the tone for a game in which the two teams racked up over a century of efforts on goal – Phantoms pipping Manchester 56-53 on that particular statistic.
A rare error from Auzins allowed the visitors to hit the front again as Robin Kovar pounced early in the second period and this time the advantage remained intact for five-and-a-half minutes until Tom Norton levelled with a blast through traffic.
Jacob Corson-Heron ensured the game continued in a familiar pattern by giving Manchester the edge again and they held that cushion for almost six minutes until the pendulum swung Phantoms’ way.
Edgars Bebris and Ales Padelek struck 20 seconds apart as the city men hit the front for the first time and they soon had a buffer as Lloyd Gibson tipped in a Cam McGiffin blast.
They ruthlessly finished off tiring opposition in the third period to provide more excitement for a crowd boosted by a discount ticket promotion.
Marc Levers coolly converted a short-handed sixth goal before Darius Pliskauskas ghosted across the zone to slam in a seventh.
And there was a memorable moment for teenage local lad James White, who completed the rout with the first Phantoms goal of his career late on.
Koulikov added: “It was great to see James get a goal. He worked hard all summer, but then picked up a bad injury in our first pre-season game.
“I took the opportunity to give him and the other development guys a few shifts and it will be valuable experience for them.”
Phantoms’ hit the goal trail without import ace Milan Baranyk, who only appeared briefly during the opening period before taking no further part.
The Czech forward is still being troubled by the blow to the knee which forced him out of the defeat at the hands of Telford the previous Sunday.
Koulikov confirmed Baranyk will play no part when Phantoms make their first visit to Hull Pirates tonight (October 25, 5.30pm).
The bottom side were bashed 11-0 by table-toppers Milton Keynes last night so Phantoms will be hot favourites to completed a fourth four-point weekend of the campaign.
4:47 Scott ass: Weldon/Bebris
29:33 Norton ass: Weldon/J. Ferrara
38:18 Bebris ass: Susters/Weldon
38:38 Padelek ass: Scott/Pliskauskas
39:56 Gibson ass: McGiffin/Scott
44:47 Levers (SH) ass: Pliskauskas/Auzins
46:19 Pliskauskas ass: Susters/McGiffin
58:56 White unassisted
3:49 Gron (PP) ass: Kovar/Neil
24:03 Kovar ass: Archer/Aaltonen
32:39 Corson-Heron ass: Hope/Satek
Phantoms – Martins Susters
Manchester – Robin Kovar