Slava Koulikov hailed the scoring power of his Peterborough Phantoms team after they returned to the English Premier League summit last night (December 5).
Six different forwards shared seven goals as the city men triumphed 7-4 at Guildford Flames to snatch back top spot.
And it was a result which arrived courtesy of a much-improved performance from a Phantoms side now beginning to look genuine title contenders.
They hit the front inside three minutes at The Spectrum through the first of Will Weldon’s two goals and never surrendered their advantage.
A buzzer-beating empty-net effort from Craig Scott eventually put the seal on a memorable away day in the final second.
Koulikov said: “We were by far the better team for the majority of the game and it is not often a visiting coach can say that after a game in Guildford.
“We addressed a few issues in practice after not playing too well lately and the guys executed the things we asked of them.
“There are still a couple of little problems to correct. For example we lost a bit of focus when conceding a goal in the final minute of the first period and then got a bit sluggish to let in another towards the end of the second period.
“But overall it was a magnificent performance. We defended our zone well, we attacked well and we controlled a lot of the play.
“It is really pleasing to see so many players scoring goals. We are not a team that relies on one or two guys to come up with big numbers.
“We have a lot of forwards scoring consistently and that is a big help.”
Weldon made the initial breakthrough with little more than two-and-a-half minutes gone and captain James Ferrara then doubled the Phantoms advantage.
Former Peterborough man Erik Piatak halved it late in the opening session before Edgars Bebris and Weldon put the city men back in command during the middle session.
Another goal from Slovakian star Piatak on a powerplay meant Phantoms couldn’t rest on their laurels.
They responded with a Darius Pliskauskas strike on a numerical advantage of their own in the final session to restore the three-goal cushion.
The teams then traded four goals in the final six-and-a-half minutes with Lee Esders’ powerplay effort cancelled out by Lloyd Gibson.
Piatak then completed his hat-trick and Guildford pulled netminder Gregg Rockman with 50 seconds remaining in an ambitious bid to stage a late fightback.
But the only change to the scoreline arrived courtesy of Scott’s last-gasp strike into the gaping target.
Phantoms are now a point clear of title rivals Basingstoke and Milton Keynes in the standings – a position they’ll hope to preserve when entertaining fourth-placed Swindon tonight (December 6, 5.30pm) at Planet Ice.
Koulikov added: “Last night was a great result, but it was only the first part of a tough weekend.
“It is always nice to have the bus trip home on a Saturday knowing we have already picked up two points, but we want to follow it up against Swindon.
“They are a tough team to play against and will be high on confidence after beating MK on penalties last night.
“They boast firepower that is up there with any team in this league and they also have the best British netminder in Stevie Lyle.”
19:18 Piatak unassisted
37:01 Piatak (PP) ass: Kralj/Lundin
53:37 Esders ass: McKinney/Meyers
57:20 Piatak (PP) ass: McKinney
2:33 Weldon ass: Bebris/McGiffin
13:08 J. Ferrara ass: R. Ferrara
23:23 Bebris ass: Norton/Levers
34:36 Weldon ass: Gibson/Susters
45:06 Pliskauskas (PP) ass: Scott
56:16 Gibson ass: Levers/Baranyk
59:59 Scott (ENG) ass: J. Ferrara
Guildford – Andrew McKinney
Phantoms – Will Weldon