Phantoms took a giant step to the taking part in the climax to the National League season by securing a brilliant 6-3 win at Sheffield Steedogs on Friday night.
That meant a win for Swindon in Basingstoke tonight or a win for Phantoms in the return game against Sheffield at Planet Ice on Sunday (5.30pm) would see the city qualify.
And Swindon snatched a 5-4 win this evening to make tonight’s clash an irrelevance, at least to Slava Koulikov’s men.
Phantoms hadn’t won in Sheffield all season, but they chose the biggest possible occasion to put that right as man-of-the-match Duncan Speirs grabbed a hat-trick.
But it was the home side who opened the scoring after just 4 minutes though Alex Graham
Jordan Marr was the busier of the two netminders in the opening period, with the Dogs top line of Hewitt, Bissonnette and Graham putting in a lot of minutes as they looked to build on their early lead.
But Phantoms levelled the game on 13:48. A pass from Speirs found Ales Padelek whose shot gave Dmitri Zimozdra no chance.
Phantoms then took the lead on 16:45 when Glenn Billing picked the puck out of the corner before feeding Speirs in the slot to score and it was soon 3-1 when a Phantoms powerplay saw Petr Stepanek fire past Zimozdra, against the run of play, on 17:37.
There was still time for more drama when with just one second of the period remaining, Tom Norton’s speculative shot was deflected past Zimozdra off Speirs to see the Phantoms 4-1 up at the first break.
The second period started much as the first had, with the Steeldogs laying seige to Jordan Marr’s goal. On 21:21 they beat him as Lee Bonners initial shot saw the rebound land kindly to Jason Hewitt who took the puck around Marr and poked it home.
Despite plenty of goalmouth action it remainerd 4-2 to Phantoms at the end of the second period.
Speirs popped up with a big goal at the start of the final stanza for 5-2 before the hosts pulled one back through Lee Bonner.
The goal spurred on the homeside who attacked the Phantoms net in waves, whilst the city side were content to hold up the puck and run down the clock and hold onto their lead.
And when the Steeldogs started to tire, the Phantoms finally netted their sixth of the night to see the game off on 58.11 with a rocket from Ales Padelek.