ICE HOCKEY: ‘Terrible’ Phantoms take over top spot

Edgars Bebris hit Phantoms' overtime winner.
Edgars Bebris hit Phantoms' overtime winner.
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Top of the league with games in hand . . . it doesn’t get much better than that.

And that is exactly the position that Peterborough Phantoms will wake up in this morning after maintaining their English Premier League stranglehold over Bracknell last night (November 26).

However, there is plenty of room for improvement on the performance they produced in a 3-2 triumph at The Hive which carried them into pole position and stretched their proud winning run against the Bees to 14 games going back more than two years.

Phantoms’ display was branded ‘terrible’ by their own boss, Slava Koulikov, who saw his men twice battle back from behind before Edgars Bebris fired the decisive blow 21 seconds into overtime.

That was enough to finally see off a Bracknell outfit down an import after the departure of Frankie Bakrlik to Milton Keynes the previous day and also without a trio of their senior British players.

Phantoms previously had to come from behind on two occasions in regulation time when also regularly reliant on the heroics of netminder Janis Auzins.

Koulikov admitted: “We did not play at all well, but the positive is that we still managed to pick up the two points that took us top of the table.

“The guys had to dig deep to come from behind twice before getting the extra point in OT, which is something we have not done often enough.

“An away game in midweek is always tough and we had done a lot of work in practice the previous two nights which might have left the guys a bit sluggish.

“But not team is going to be at its best every time they play in a 54-game season.”

Darius Pliskauskas was denied an early opener by the pipes and Phantoms sseveral other good opportunities before the hosts who made the breakthrough in the final minute of the first session.

However, Carl Thompson’s strike was cancelled out little more than two minutes into the second stanza as Pliskauskas did finally succeed in finding the net.

Phantoms were behind again only seconds into the third period as Ivan Antonov made a Bees powerplay pay as Pliskauskas sat out a two-minute penalty for goalie interference.

Koulikov’s men again came up with a response as Craig Scott struck moments after the hosts had hit the bar at the other end.

Neither side could strike again in a thrilling finish to regulation time, but it was Phantoms who prevailed early in overtime when Bebris was the beneficiary of some fine Scott work.

His strike meant his team pocketed the extra point for only the second time in seven overtime outings so far this season, but more significantly it carried them a point clear of Basingstoke at the EPL summit.

Phantoms meet Bracknell again tomorrow (November 28, 7pm) at Planet Ice and Koulikov is hoping for an improved showing.

He added: “I know the guys want to put in a better performance tomorrow and hopefully they will go into the game firing after a full day off.”

MATCH DETAILS

Goals

Bracknell

19:36 Thompson ass: Spearing/Bendik

40:22 Antonov (PP) ass: Bendik/Kostourek

Phantoms

22:15 Pliskauskas ass: R. Ferrara/Norton

50:03 Scott ass: Norton/Pliskauskas

60:21 Bebris ass: Scott/Auzins

Men-of-the-match

Bracknell – Carl Thompson

Phantoms – Craig Scott