It was a case of better late than never as Peterborough Phantoms preserved their position at the top of the English Premier League last night (November 28).
The city men conjured up four goals in the space of nine final-period minutes to turn a tricky situation into a 5-2 success against struggling Bracknell.
But, for the second time in three days, they were made to sweat by a short-benched and financially-stricken Bees side.
No wonder coach Slava Koulikov was relieved to emerge from two testing clashes in possession of four points.
He admitted: “We have come through two very tough games against Bracknell with two wins and that pleases me.
“We didn’t really build enough momentum in the first period when we had a few powerplays and then couldn’t get into a rhythm again in the second period when we found ourselves killing a lot of penalties.
“We knew we would get chances in the third period if we could keep ourselves out of the penalty box, and we managed to take a few of them.
“We hadn’t got in enough shots earlier in the game, but we addressed that and the quality showed through in the end.”
Phantoms hit the front when making the second of three first-period powerplays count as Ales Padelek slammed in a fierce shot. It was the only one of 17 shots that found its way past Bees netminder Alex Mettam in the opening session.
They were punished for an icing infringement when Bracknell hit back on a numerical advantage of their own in the first minute of the second period. Sam Waller’s rising shot flew past Janis Auzins.
Jason Buckman fired a shot against the pipes before Phantoms were forced onto the back-foot by the expulsion of Lloyd Gibson for a high-sticking offence that bloodied an opponent.
Phantoms, already without captain James Ferrara due to injury, expertly killed the resulting five-minute penalty before returning to the locker room on level terms.
That’s where they remained for longer-than-expected due to the sort of delay more commonly associated with a Panthers speedway meeting than an ice hockey game.
A crash and subsequent repairs are commonplace down at the East of England Showground, but last night they occurred at Planet Ice after the Zamboni clattered into the boards when providing an ice-cut.
But Phantoms eventually emerged in determined mood to seal victory with a clinical burst of goals.
Norton pounced to restore the lead when gobbling up a Padelek rebound before Craig Scott’s surge, skill and finish provided daylight.
Darius Pliskauskas then rifled into the roof of the net before the excellent Padelek completed the scoring in the way it had begun with a powerplay effort.
Bracknell did claim a goal back through youngster Tom Beesley but this was another night efficiently ticked off by the table-topping Phantoms.
They remain in pole position and a point clear of closest challengers Basingstoke, but they could drop to second tonight (November 29) if third-placed Milton Keynes triumph in Guildford.
Phantoms return to action with a Saturday (December 5) trip to Guildford before hosting Swindon at Planet Ice next Sunday (December 6).
7:51 Padelek (PP) ass: Pliskauskas
44:52 Norton (PP) ass: Padelek/Levers
49:07 Scott ass: Baranyk/Robson
50:48 Pliskauskas ass: Bebris/Levers
53:51 Padelek (PP) ass: Levers/Scott
20:57 Waller (PP) ass: Kostourek/Antonov
55:33 Beesley ass: Antonov/Kostourek
Phantoms – Ales Padelek
Bracknell – Ivan Antonov