Peterborough Phantoms crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season last night (January 18) – at the hands of a lower-level team.
The city side, admittedly without imports and several senior Brits, were thumped 8-2 by English National League side Blackburn Hawks in a miserable finish to a forgettable English Challenge Cup campaign.
Phantoms were unable to qualify from the North Group after just five of their 12 games, meaning a series of meaningless outings culminating in this sorry scoreline in Lancashire.
Player-coach Slava Koulikov admitted: “I have to credit Blackburn for playing well. The shots-on-goal were almost identical (Phantoms actually shaded it 37-36) but they were much more clinical.
“Had we taken our chances in the first and second periods it could have been different, but I am not happy with his result at all.
“We have an important league game in three days and maybe some guys’ minds were on that.
“There are not a lot of positives from a night like this, but the youngsters again pleased me, just as they did in Solway on Saturday, and a game like this will be good experience for them.”
Phantoms conceded twice in the opening period – including a short-handed effort – before captain-for-the-night Jason Buckman halved their arrears on a powerplay early in the second session.
But a flurry of five unanswered Blackburn goals (including two just 17 seconds apart in that middle stanza) put them in command.
Tom Norton hit a second for Phantoms before the hosts completed the scoring with a shade under seven minutes remaining.
An already threadbare Phantoms roster had been further depleted by that point with Koulikov and Will Weldon taking no part in the final few minutes after being hit with penalties.
Koulikov received a total of 16 minutes after being called for tripping and attempting to butt-end an opponent following an incident triggered by a late slash on him, while Weldon got 10 minutes for incitement.
“There was a bit of frustration on our part,” admitted Koulikov. “No player is happy when losing a game heavily and I lost my control after getting a two-handed slash.
“There is no need for that when the game is 7-2 with a few minutes to go.”
And to cap a miserable night Phantoms dropped to fifth in the English Premier League standings due to results elsewhere.
They can return to third with victory over Bracknell at Planet Ice on Wednesday (January 21, 7.45pm).
13:20 Owen (PP) ass: L. Brittle/Davies
19:31 L. Brittle (SH) ass: A. Brittle
22:07 Meikle ass: Bannon
27:22 A. Brittle (PP) ass: Owen/Meikle
27:39 King ass: A. Brittle/Owen
30:14 Ravey ass: Nurse/Mackriel
44:08 L. Brittle ass: Arnone
53:02 Bannon (PP) ass: Meikle
21:56 Buckman (PP) ass: Koulikov
49:24 Norton ass: Robson/Bebris
Blackburn – Ollie Lomax
Phantoms – Connor Stokes