Terrific netminding, rock-solid defensive work and ruthless attacking added up to a complete Peterborough Phantoms performance last night (November 1)
Gone are the days when it is a pleasant surprise to see the city men put a top English Premier League to the sword. Now it happens with such regularity it is almost taken for granted.
And a 5-1 victory over Guildford Flames at Planet Ice was among the best results achieved in recent times – not only for the final scoreline, but for the manner in which it was secured.
Phantoms had to soak up near-constant pressure for long parts of this contest as two teams playing their only fixture of the weekend served up a high-paced and action-packed clash, but they emerged as emphatic victors to close to within a point of table-toppers Basingstoke.
Coach Slava Koulikov said: “We’ve had some good performances this season and this is right up there with the best of them especially as it followed the disappointing result in Hull last weekend.
“We played well in all areas. Our netminder was excellent, the defensive work in front of him was very good and the forwards did their job with the goals.”
Any fears of a hangover from their penalties loss in Humberside the previous weekend were ended within seconds of the puck dropping.
Ales Padelek did the honours as Phantoms hit the front inside the opening minute. The Czech forward benefitted from some fine work from line-mate Lloyd Gibson.
Captain James Ferrara slammed in a second goal at 7:41 to double their advantage after being picked out by Darius Pliskauskas’ precise pass during a powerplay.
The goal judges weren’t troubled again until Guildford halved their arrears just after half-distance. Kevin Phillips gobbled up a Matt Towe rebound as they made a numerical advantage of their own count.
It was an effort which followed almost 20 minutes of strong pressure stretching back into the opening session and only a stunning Auzins save from Marcus Kristoffersson prevented them levelling moments later.
But Phantoms gave themselves breathing space when Edgars Bebris powered home a low drive just under three minutes before the buzzer and they snuffed out any thoughts of a Flames fightback by striking 30 seconds into the final session.
Padelek burst onto the puck and fired past Guildford goalie Gregg Rockman in a one-on-one situation only seconds after Gibson had steered an equally presentable chance wide.
It was a goal which knocked the stuffing out of the visitors and Phantoms posed considerably more threat during the remaining minutes.
They were rewarded when Pliskauskas applied icing to the cake with a spin and finish with 78 seconds remaining – a goal of fitting quality to reflect a fine team display.
Koulikov added: “Both teams played with play-off intensity in the first period after not playing the previous night.
“We knew a fast start was crucial and it was good to see us put a solid opening 20 minutes together for the first time since early October.
“Guildford put us under a lot of pressure with their offensive power, but we played very well defensively and my penalty-killing unit were magnificent.
“We did concede on one powerplay in the second period, but we saw off plenty of others and the game was over when we scored again at the beginning of the third period.
“With every minute that passed from then on, you could see Guildford giving up.”
Phantoms achieved their success without import forward Milan Baranyk who remains sidelined by a knee problem. He is due to have a scan this week.
Phantoms travel to reigning champions Telford this Saturday (November 7, 6.30pm) before hosting Hull the following night at Planet Ice (5.30pm).
0:42 Padelek ass: Gibson/Robson
7:41 J. Ferrara ass: Pliskauskas/Padelek
37:04 Bebris ass: Weldon/Scott
40:30 Padelek ass: Pliskauskas/Norton
58:42 Pliskauskas ass: Bebris/Levers
30:36 Phillips (PP) ass: Towe/Duggan
Phantoms – Ales Padelek
Guildford – Kevin Phillips