There are few worse sights for Peterborough Phantoms fans than seeing Milton Keynes celebrate on city ice.
But that is exactly what they had to witness last night (September 20) when a 4-3 reverse at the hands of the club’s fiercest rivals completed a difficult, and ultimately disappointing, weekend.
Phantoms were pipped in overtime after producing a rousing third period fightback to at least collect one point, but that proved to be their only gain after going down in Guildford the previous night.
They could count themselves unfortunate not to have picked up better results in both games, but need to snap out of the habit of giving opponents a head-start.
Coach Slava Koulikov said: “We didn’t want to end the weekend with only one point and that is a disappointment, but we produced some really good spells of hockey in the two games.
“We dominated a lot of the game against MK in particular and two of their goals can just be put down to back luck.
“The way we fought back from 3-1 down in the third period also really pleased me and it is just a shame we couldn’t go on to get the win.
“But we have to find the right consistency for 60 minutes and ensure we are not having to come from behind in games.”
Adam Carr made an early breakthrough for Milton Keynes and was also credited with doubling the Lightning lead 16 seconds into the middle session.
He was the last visiting player to touch the puck before Phantoms defenceman Scott Robson calamitously fired into his own net when attempting to clear into the boards behind the goal.
It was an error of judgement which proved costly as the city team were eventually pipped by the odd goal in seven.
They did halve their arrears when Darius Pliskauskas struck on a powerplay later in the middle stanza but one of their old boys – Lewis Hook - restored the visitors’ two-goal cushion early in the final session.
Not many betting men would have staked hard cash on Phantoms responding at that point, but Marc Levers’ powerplay rebound with just over eight-and-a-half minutes remain triggered an explosive finish from the hosts.
They were soon level as Milan Baranyk guided a shot into the corner of the net and could count themselves unfortunate not to snatch an unlikely winner when peppering the Lightning target in the closing minutes.
But their hopes of victory were dashed just 54 seconds into the lottery of three-on-three overtime as Markku Tahtinen succeeded in steering the puck past Janis Auzins.
Koulikov is clearly no fan of the newly-introduced rules which mean only one import can ice at any given time in overtime. Phantoms, and the three other teams with overseas netminders, appear to be at a disadvantage.
“I don’t really want to talk about it,” added Koulikov. “I let people know my view in the summer when the new rules were made and only time will tell how it works.
“There are going to be a lot of chances in overtime this year. You have to score or the other team will because it is impossible to close down when playing three-on-three.”
Phantoms are back on home ice on Saturday (September 26) when they host Bracknell. A visit to champions Telford, who have lost both home games to date this season, follows on Sunday (September 27).
34:03 Pliskauskas (PP) ass: J. Ferrara/Padelek
51:24 Levers (PP) ass: Baranyk/Scott
55:43 Baranyk ass: Bebris/Scott
6:53 Carr ass: Chamberlain/Farn
20:16 Carr unassisted
42:18 Hook ass: Farn/Chamberlain
60:54 Tahtinen ass: Chamberlain/Jamieson
Phantoms – Darius Pliskauskas
Milton Keynes – James Griffin