Peterborough Phantoms made hard work of extending two winning streaks on a Sunday night (December 11) of the unexpected.
The city club stretched their current successful run to five English Premier League games courtesy of a 22nd victory in succession against Bracknell Bees.
Needless to say the 2-0 triumph at Planet Ice was the least impressive victory in both of those aforementioned sequences as Phantoms were reliant on a couple of surprise heroes.
Forward Sam Towner had drawn a blank in the opening three months of his Phantoms career, but he made the all-important breakthrough with a welcome goal which certainly arrived at a welcome time.
Towner, who joined from Hull in the summer, struck eight seconds before the mid-point of a match in which Phantoms often looked as though they were wading through treacle. Big import Petr Stepanek eventually gave them breathing space with just under 12 minutes to go.
And even less people would have expected netminder Janis Auzins to need to provide a match-winning display against second-bottom visitors, but the Latvian star’s 37-shot shut-out was just that.
He made impressive saves in all three periods on a night when it was evident from an early stage that there would be no repeat of the 8-2 drubbing dished out to the same opponents the previous Sunday (December 4).
Indeed there were suggestions that back-up netminder Adam Long had been pencilled in to play this game earlier in the week only for a change of heart by the club’s coaching staff.
With the benefit of hindsight, it was a smart decision and one which made stand-in coach Jason Buckman’s post-match phone call to Slava Koulikov – away with the Great Britain Under 20 squad – considerably more comfortable than it might otherwise have been.
“I wouldn’t have been looking forward to the phone call to Slava if we had lost,” admitted Buckman. “But credit to the guys for battling through to get the win and the two points.
“It is always difficult to reach peak level when only having one game in a weekend. We also gave them a couple of days off during the week after a very tough training session on Wednesday.
“We almost expected the game to pan out in the way it did with a slow start. We created plenty of chances, but I told the guys after the first two periods that they weren’t being direct enough.
“We were putting pretty passes together, but needed to get into that shooting zone more often and the scoreline probably reflects that.”
Phantoms climbed up to fourth in the EPL standings courtesy of last night’s success – a position they will aim to cement during a tough upcoming weekend.
They go to Guildford this Saturday (December 17) ahead of a home clash against table-topping Telford the following night.
29:52 Towner ass: Darge/Griffiths
48:12 Stepanek ass: Susters
PHANTOMS – Janis Auzins
BRACKNELL – Alex Mettam