One goal controversially scrubbed off was a considerably bigger talking point than the seven allowed to stand as Peterborough Phantoms were pipped in an overtime thriller last night (January 31).
The city team eventually went down 4-3 to Guildford at Planet Ice with visiting livewire Ben Campbell settling the contest just 27 seconds into sudden death.
But this third-versus-fourth clash could have been very different had Ales Padelek’s powerplay opener in the first period not been washed out in hotly-disputed fashion by referee Will Hewitt and his linesmen.
The Czech lashed a shot past Flames’ new import netminder Richard Ullberg only to see the visiting players converge on the officials. The goal was initially given before Hewitt over-ruled his own decision as he deemed Phantoms man Edgars Bebris had skated into the crease when Padelek’s shot flashed past him on its journey into the net.
Phantoms did still open up a two-goal advantage only to concede three times in just under six minutes and have to claw their way to a point courtesy of a Craig Scott leveller, but furious coach Slava Koulikov could not get that early talking point out of his mind.
He said: “I made myself clear to the officials after the game as I had the photographic evidence to show they made the wrong decision.
“It is very disappointing to see a goal washed out incorrectly as it had a big impact on the game. They claim they were certain they got it right, but they were wrong.
“I’m confident it would have been game over had we got into the three-goal lead we deserved when playing so well for the first 35 minutes.
“Unfortunately we then switched off and allowed Guildford to score with 12 seconds of the second period to go and we then found ourselves behind early in the final period.
“But we managed to come out of it with a point. That’s three for the weekend which is really good at this stage of the season.
“We’re disappointed it is not four, but we have to move on as there are a lot of big weekends coming up.”
Phantoms did eventually hit the front when Milan Baranyk continued his purple patch by tucking the puck past Ullberg with 36 seconds of the opening session to go. Even Hewitt and his fussy assistants could find no way to disallow that strike.
The advantage was doubled when James White steered in a Lloyd Gibson pass a quarter of the way into the middle stanza, but the game was thrown into the balance seconds before the buzzer.
Flames import Jens Eriksson halved his side’s arrears to launch a rapid turnaround with two further goals following early in the third period. Andy McKinney provided the leveller before Janis Ozolins took Phantoms netminder Janis Auzins by surprise with an early shot to ease the visitors ahead.
Scott restored parity when breaking clear to beat Ullberg after a Baranyk interception to ensure both teams pocketed a valuable league point, but it was Guildford who claimed a second when Campbell sped in from the right to beat Auzins early in overtime.
Phantoms face a trip to table-topping Basingstoke on Saturday (February 6) before hosting Hull the following night.
19:24 Baranyk ass: Scott/R. Ferrara
25:02 White ass: Gibson/Robson
54:16 Scott ass: Baranyk
39:48 Eriksson ass: Kralj/McKinney
42:08 McKinney ass: Eriksson/Esders
45:47 Ozolins ass: Melachrino/Meyers
60:27 Campbell ass: Duggan/Lundin
Phantoms – Milan Baranyk
Guildford – Tom Duggan