Last-minute winner enables Peterborough Phantoms to continue their winning streak
Peterborough Phantoms came through some late drama to continue their winning streak last night (February 8).
Corey McEwen hit the winner in the final minute to clinch a 5-4 victory against Bracknell in the NIHL National Division – their eighth consecutive success.
Red-hot Phantoms appeared to be on course for a relatively comfortable success until seeing a two-goal lead wiped out as they ran into penalty trouble in the final session.
But they responded brilliantly as McEwen struck with 54 seconds left on the clock to earn the two points in their only game of the weekend.
Head coach Slava Koulikov said: “I’m sure it was enjoyable for the fans and I’m also glad for the guys that we got the winning goal.
“It would have been harsh on us had Bracknell got a point and the game gone to overtime as I felt we were by far the better team in two of the three periods.
“It looked like it was a done deal until we picked up three penalties in the offensive zone and another for a delay of the game.
“They changed the momentum and Bracknell managed to get a couple of goals to bring themselves level, but even though it wasn’t our best performance we had the character and desire to respond with a winning goal.”
The two teams traded early goals with teenage defenceman Bradley Bowering putting Phantoms ahead after just 75 seconds, but Bracknell import Domink Gabaj beat returning netminder Jordan Marr little more than a minute-and-a-half later.
Marr was back in the Phantoms crease after missing their previous two games – a cup semi-final success against Hull and thrilling league victory over Swindon – due to personal reasons.
He experienced a busy return with the Bees unleashing 40 on-target attempts compared to the 31 managed by Phantoms.
But it was the city men who soon gained control thanks to powerplay strikes from McEwen and Petr Stepanek later in the opening period.
McEwen lifted the puck past Bees netminder Adam Goss from close range before Stepanek was left free to fire in a Tom Norton pass at the back post.
Gabaj reduced Bracknell’s arrears in the second period with his second goal of the evening before Ales Padelek restored Phantoms’ two-goal cushion when his powerplay shot squirmed through Goss and trickled over the line.
That’s the way it stayed until Phantoms began collecting penalties at an alarming rate in the final session with Norton, Martins Susters and James Ferrara all receiving tripping calls before Joe Hazeldine picked up two minutes for delaying the game.
Bracknell made a five-on-three situation count as Harvey Stead struck before Phantoms saw out the remainder of the penalty kill.
But, seconds after returning to full strength, they were undone again as Ryan Webb levelled for the visitors.
However, Phantoms weren’t about to settle for a share of the spoils as Susters raced into the offensive zone and laid the puck into the path of McEwen to hit the winner.
Phantoms also have only one fixture next weekend when hosting Raiders on Sunday (February 16).
1.15 Bowering ass: Susters/Stepanek
8.16 McEwen (PP) ass: Susters/Norton
13.08 Stepanek (PP) ass: Norton/McEwen
33.08 Padelek (PP) ass: Norton/Billing
59.06 McEwen ass: Susters/Padelek
2.48 Gabaj ass: Milton/Ealey-Newman
27.47 Gabaj (PP) ass: Milton/Knaggs
53.04 H. Stead (PP) ass: Gabaj/Knaggs
55.52 Webb ass: J. Baird/Malinik
PHANTOMS – Corey McEwen
BRACKNELL – Ed Knaggs