MATCH REPORT: Phantoms tamed by the Tigers
Peterborough Phantoms' season is over following defeat in the NIHL Final Four today (April 7).
The city side were beaten 4-1 by NIHL Division One North play-off champions Telford in their semi-final showdown in Coventry.
The loss at the Skydome completed a frustrating campaign for Phantoms who missed out on NIHL Division One South title glory to Basingstoke on goal difference before being pipped on aggregate by the same opponents in the play-off final.
Phantoms were boosted by the return of forward Owen Griffiths from a shoulder injury and began brightly, but it was Telford who gradually gained control and hit the front with the only goal of the opening session when Rick Plant pounced on a rebound.
The Tigers’ advantage grew in the second period thanks to two powerplay goals in the space of five minutes from Scott McKenzie and Macauley Halford.
Phantoms rallied as James White lashed in an Ales Padelek pass and that goal provided the platform for their best spell of the contest.
They continued to create chances during the final period when unleashing 14 efforts on Tigers netminder Dennis Bell, but they were unable to find another breakthrough.
Head coach Slava Koulikov eventually sacrificed netminder Euan King in favour of an extra skater with just under three minutes to go.
Phantoms set up camp in Telford territory for a late assault, but any hopes of a dramatic comeback were ended when McKenzie blocked a shot and fired into the empty net with 74 seconds to go.
“We dug ourselves a hole,” admitted Koulikov. “We didn’t really play well in the first period and couldn’t complain about being behind.
“We then took two very soft penalties - one for too many men and another in the neutral zone - in the second period and Telford capitalised on both of them.
“It was never going to be easy to try to come back from a 3-0 scoreline against a team of their quality, but we had the better of the second half of the game.
“We pushed hard, we pulled the goalie, we threw everything at them, but the empty net goal at the end finished the game.
“The guys fought as they have done all season. We had people playing who weren’t anywhere near 100 per cent - people putting their bodies on the line while on painkillers.”
15:26 Plant ass: Weaver/Silverthorn
26: 12 McKenzie (PP) ass: Weaver/Miller
30:56 Halford (PP) ass: Weaver/Silverthorn
58:46 McKenzie (ENG)
32:43 White ass: Padelek
Telford – Dennis Bell
Phantoms – Nathan Salem