Peterborough Phantoms have issued a statement of English Premier League intent by sweeping to back-to-back victories in the opening weekend of the season.
The reigning play-off champions put four points on the board by following up a 6-3 Saturday (September 12) triumph in Swindon with a fine 5-3 success over Basingstoke at Planet Ice last night (September 13).
It was also a weekend of 11 goals shared around by nine different scorers to demonstrate the wealth of firepower Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov now has at his disposal. Only skipper James Ferrara and new import Ales Padelek struck twice.
Koulikov said: “We have produced good performances two nights running to pick up four points against what I feel are two very strong teams.
“You only have to look at the fact Swindon won in Telford last night to see what a good result we had down there on Saturday.
“And it was very pleasing to follow it by beating a Basingstoke team who always compete around the top places in the league.
“We are not going to get carried away by one good weekend, but to start the season well takes away some pressure.”
Padelek hit the second of two early goals last night as Phantoms quickly moved into the driving seat against Basingstoke.
His effort arrived little more than two minutes after Craig Scott had broken the deadlock on a powerplay.
But Bison, complete with their usual aggressive and niggly approach, came back strongly in the second period when six goals were traded.
Declan Balmer’s delayed penalty strike and Tomas Karpov’s close-range pounce pulled the visitors level before a frantic spell continued with Edgars Bebris blasting through traffic to restore Phantoms’ advantage.
They were then stung seconds after a powerplay as Bison man Joe Rand burst from bench into the zone to tuck the puck past Janis Auzins, but Phantoms were not about to crumble.
Scott produced brilliance from a face-off to lay a fourth goal on a plate for Ferrara before Darius Pliskauskas ghosted in to apply the finishing touch to a quick break.
That proved to be the end of the goalscoring with more than four minutes of the middle session still remaining as Phantoms closed out the contest impressively.
They were conclusively out-shot, but never out-played in a game which proved an import netminder is not an instant guarantee of success.
Basingstoke’s new overseas goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky – who has spent the past three years at Elite League level - cut a bewildered figure as he was beaten by five of the 22 shots he faced. It was a performance in stark contrast to that of the typically impressive last line of Phantoms defence, Auzins.
Koulikov added: “We scored some good goals at important times and it is clear a few combinations are already clicking.
“We also battled hard and kept ourselves in the game in the second period when Basingstoke came on strong.
“Janis came up with big saves as he always does. He has the benefit of a year of EPL hockey already behind him and that’s something the Basingstoke goalie doesn’t have. It takes time to adjust to this level.”
Phantoms go to Guildford on Saturday (September 19) before welcoming fierce rivals Milton Keynes to Planet Ice on Sunday (September 20).
3:13 Scott (PP) ass: Padelek/J. Ferrara
5:29 Padelek ass: Bebris/Levers
29:33 Bebris ass: Baranyk/Levers
33:02 J. Ferrara ass: Scott
35:39 Pliskauskas ass: J. Ferrara/Scott
22:50 Balmer (DP) ass: Vantroba/Karpov
26:11 Karpov ass: Watt/Baird
32:02 Rand ass: Thompson
Phantoms – Ales Padelek
Basingstoke – Tomas Karpov