A familiar outcome for Peterborough Phantoms was followed by a familiar reaction last night (October 28).
As has so often been the case so far this season, Slava Koulikov’s men were comfortable winners without being anywhere near their best.
They beat Sheffield 7-3 at Planet Ice to seal their place in the semi-finals of the NIHL Autumn Cup.
Phantoms matched the feat of Basingstoke by recording home and away successes against the Steeldogs.
Two clashes against the Bison will now determine which side finishes top of Group 1 - the city men currently hold that position by virtue of building up a significantly better goal difference.
“It’s job done in terms of qualifying for the semi-finals,” said Koulikov. “We’re pleased to have done that with a couple of games to spare.
“We were very slugglish in many areas and I did kind of know that could happen after only having one game last weekend and an optional practice in the week.
“We need to be more accountable for the decisions we make on and off the puck, but having said that we did score another seven goals and win the game comfortably.”
Glenn Billing and Darius Pliskauskas provided the goals in an opening session dominated by Phantoms.
Only the pipes prevented the latter player and Owen Griffiths from striking again while the crossbar came to the rescue at the other end when Milan Kolena briefly threatened for Sheffield.
The visitors were much more dangerous in the second period and cut their arrears courtesy of former Peterborough man James Spurr.
Nathan Salem slammed a powerplay effort through the legs of Steeldogs netminder Brandon Stones moments later and Will Weldon pounced for Phantoms’ fourth goal.
The visitors replied as a Tom Relf shot deflected in off Andrew Hirst, but Phantoms hit back little more than a minute later when Tom Norton’s blast through traffic restored the three-goal cushion and all but assured Phantoms of victory.
Steeldogs player-coach Ben Morgan did briefly give his side hope of a comeback when striking on a powerplay in the final session, but it disappeared again 12 minutes later when Connor Pollard marked his latest Phantoms call-up with a goal.
Pollard and twin sibling Nathan are now set to be regular members of the roster after starting the second with the club’s second team (formerly known as Islanders). Youngsters Jack Escott and Taylor Romeo have moved in the opposite direction.
There was one further addition to the scoreline as Weldon tucked away another simple finish after Ales Padelek hit a post late on.
Phantoms are back in NIHL Division One South action today (October 29) when they travel to Kent side Invicta (5.15pm) in search of a ninth successive league victory.
8:20 Billing ass: Jamieson/Salem
14:22 Pliskauskas ass: J. Ferrara
20:41 Salem (PP) ass: Knaggs
32:55 Weldon ass: White/Padelek
37:09 Norton ass: J. Ferrara/Pliskauskas
47:47 C. Pollard ass: R. Ferrara/White
57:02 Weldon ass: Padelek/White
23:46 Spurr ass: Kolena
35:55 Hirst ass: Relf/Kolena
47:35 Morgan (PP) ass: Spurr
Phantoms - Darius Pliskauskas
Sheffield - James Spurr