Peterborough Phantoms were no match for the table-topping English Premier League title favourites last night (October 23).
The city team became the latest victims of Telford Tigers when going down to a 6-3 defeat in Shropshire.
The outcome certainly wasn’t a surprise given Phantoms’ already depleted squad was further stretched when a groin problem ruled out defenceman Ben Russell.
And import forward Ales Padelek took no part in the second half of the contest due to an upset stomach which was getting progressively worse during the game.
Koulikov admitted: “It is always difficult to follow up one really good performance and result with another
“We were coming down from the high of beating Hull so well on Saturday night and playing a team like Telford, who still haven’t lost in regulation time this season, is a really tough task.
“They look like they are back to being the team of two years ago that won the league very comfortably.
“To stand any chance of getting a result there you need to be at full-strength, have a good start to the game and be mentally prepared.
“We were none of those things and I have to admit that our injuries are becoming too much to deal with.
“We lost another guy before the game while ‘Paddy’ was feeling more and more unwell as it went on.
“But, if I had been offered them in advance, I guess I would have settled for two points from a weekend in which we played the first and third-placed teams in the table.”
Phantoms fell behind after just 63 seconds when a Doug Clarkson shot found its way past Janis Auzins, but they soon levelled when Martins Susters struck unassisted for the second successive night.
Parity proved to be short-lived as Matty Davies pounced on a loose puck before Jason Silverthorn extended the hosts’ advantage.
Rick Plant was next to strike for the Tigers early in the middle period before Darius Pliskauskas continued his purple patch with a short-handed effort to register his sixth goal in three games.
But any hopes of a Phantoms fightback were quickly quashed as Silverthorn and Clarkson bagged their second goals of the night to complete Telford’s half-dozen before the second buzzer.
Koulikov opted for a netminding change for the final period and back-up Adam Long enjoyed a 20-minute shut-out after replacing Auzins.
And Phantoms provided the only goal of the closing stanza when Petr Stepanek struck late on.
Koulikov added: “We take positives away from almost any loss and always identify things to learn from in the future.
“This game was no different and I was pleased with the performance in the third period as we could easily have fallen apart, but we continued to work as a team and got a goal back for our efforts.
“I felt it was the right time to give Adam more minutes with the game already gone after the second period.”
Phantoms dropped back to eighth in the EPL standings ahead of a weekend in which they face two other teams in the bottom half of the table.
They host reigning EPL Cup and play-off champions Guildford on Saturday at Planet Ice (7pm) before travelling to basement boys Bracknell on Sunday (6pm).
1:03 Clarkson ass: Davies/Satek
8:13 Davies ass: Hill/Oakford
11:56 Silverthorn ass: Kolena/Zajac
23:02 Plant ass: Silverthorn/Weaver
32:22 Silverthorn ass: Kolena/Plant
37:44 Clarkson ass: Davies
4:40 Susters unassisted
29:26 Pliskauskas (SH) ass: Griffiths
57:36 Stapenak unassisted
TELFORD – Jason Silverthorn
PHANTOMS – Martins Susters