Peterborough Phantoms delivered a brilliant Boxing Day display to sink their biggest rivals last night (December 26),
Slava Koulikov’s men collected arguably their finest success of the English Premier League season when denting Milton Keynes’ title bid on their own ice.
But the 3-2 triumph in Buckinghamshire appears to have come at a cost with forwards Darius Pliskauskas and Will Weldon both picking up injuries.
Lithuanian international Pliskauskas was hurt in the opening period while Weldon took no part in the final session as fourth-placed Phantoms closed out victory over their title-chasing hosts.
“You have to be happy to beat the best team in the league on their own ice,” said Koulikov.
“We didn’t dominate the game by any means, but we played well defensively and deserved the win.
“A result like this highlights the improvement we have made during this season.
“You can see the young guys growing as individuals by doing the right things on a consistent basis.”
Phantoms needed only 80 seconds to hit the front courtesy of teenage talent Martins Susters and they soon doubled their advantage when Wehebe Darge pounced on a powerplay.
Phantoms had to wait until just after the mid-point of the game to strike again through Petr Stepanek before former favourite Craig Scott cut the Lightning arrears.
Ales Padelek then saw a fourth Phantoms effort controversially scrubbed out for alleged netminder interference and Milton Keynes clawed their way back to within one goal when Blaz Emersic netted with just under four minutes to go.
That was the cue for the hosts to pile on the pressure after pulling goaltender Przemyslaw Odrobny, but they could not find another way through as Phantoms held on for a fine success. They have now beaten the top two EPL teams in successive games after seeing off table-topping Telford on December 18.
“We had a perfect goal washed out which should have made it game over,” added Koulikov.
“We were then under a lot of pressure towards the end as MK cut our lead to one goal and then pulled their netminder.
“But we kept our discipline to close out the game despite being down to five defencemen and nine forwards.”
Phantoms will aim to make it a quick double against their arch-rivals when hosting a return clash against Milton Keynes at Planet Ice tonight (December 27, 5.30pm).
33:56 Scott ass: Emersic/Cownie
56:12 Emersic ass: Holli/Jones
1:20 Susters ass: J. Ferrara/Stepanek
7:52 Darge ass: Pliskauskas/Norton
32:08 Stepanek ass: Towner
MILTON KEYNES – James Griffin
PHANTOMS – Janis Auzins