Peterborough Phantoms extended their English Premier League winning streak with one of their sweetest successes of the season last night (January 30).
The city team claimed a fourth successive league victory when easing to a 6-1 victory at struggling Hull – and they had the added satisfaction of setting the record straight in the process.
Phantoms’ two previous visits to their coach Slava Koulikov’s home town had been thoroughly forgettable experiences; a penalty shoot-out loss back in October and a 5-1 thumping a fortnight ago.
But he could finally make the short drive home with a smile on his face after seeing his men respond to falling behind early on in fine style.
Koulikov said: “We only managed to get one point out of the two previous games in Hull this season so we needed to go and show we could win there.
“We wanted to put the record straight in a building where ourselves and a lot of other teams towards the top of the table have struggled.
“We gave the guys four days off after a hectic run of games recently and we knew it might mean we were bit rusty at the start of the game.
“We fell behind, but we didn’t panic. We knew our job and executed the gameplan very well.
“Things can change very quickly in sport and our record in the last few weeks is proof of that.
“We had a run of defeats which no-one enjoyed, but I’m very pleased with the way we have got out of the bad spell and got back on track.”
Koulikov could have been forgiven for fearing the worst when import Pasi Salonen fired hosts Hull ahead last night.
Phantoms were left feeling particularly aggrieved as the Pirates’ strike came soon after they had seen a clear trip on Craig Scott go unpunished as he charged in on goal.
But the frustration soon turned to celebration with two goals in little more than two minutes turning a deficit into an advantage.
Milan Baranyk provided the equaliser when squeezing the puck under the pad of home netminder Marty Raitums before supplying the lay-off for Scott to fire them ahead during a spell of four-on-four.
The crossbar denied Hull player-coach Dominic Osman a leveller early in the second session before Phantoms extended their average when Edgars Bebris seized on a loose puck and slotted a back-hander past Raitums.
A fine save from the Pirates custodian denied Marc Levers another Phantoms goal just past the mid-point of the contest and Raitums also kept out Lloyd Gibson after he had won the puck and burst into the zone.
It was then the turn of Phantoms netminder Janis Auzins – the newly-crowned Peterborough Telegraph Sportsman of the Year for 2015 - to excel as he kept out a Tommi Laine shot when the Pirates mounted a three-on-one breakaway. Auzins also stood tall when Salonen searched for his second goal of the night.
Phantoms preserved their two-goal cushion until the final half of the final period when they powered clear.
Will Weldon coolly converted a fine Scott pass and Baranyk struck again with a smart wrist-shot before Darius Pliskauskas gratefully accepted a short-handed sixth in the final minute.
It means Phantoms can claim a second successive four-point weekend by beating EPL Cup final opponents Guildford at Planet Ice tonight (January 31, 5.30pm).
It’s also a clash of the third and fourth-placed teams in the EPL standings with Phantoms keen to extend their current four-point cushion over the Flames.
Koulikov added: “It is always a big game against Guildford, whether it is in the league, the play-offs or a cup final.
“We have proved this season that we are capable of winning in their building and they have also won at our rink in the past.
“They have made some additions since we last faced them and we are guaranteed a very tough test.
“We want to extend the gap over them in the table and they will be coming to Peterborough to close it.”
12:17 Salonen ass: Chilcott
15:51 Baranyk ass: J. Ferrara
18:08 Scott ass: Baranyk/J. Ferrara
26:31 Bebris unassisted
50:31 Weldon ass: Scott/Pliskauskas
52:44 Baranyk ass: Scott/Levers
59:19 Pliskauskas (SH) ass: Gibson/J. Ferrara
Hull – Lee Bonner
Phantoms – Ales Padelek