The city side looked to have taken a giant step towards a weekend in Coventry when winning 6-3 in Basingstoke on Saturday (April 16), but they were then beaten at 3-1 at Planet Ice by the same opponents last night.
Sheffield Steeldogs have broken clear at the top of the group after back-to-back wins over Swindon. The leaders host Phantoms on Friday (April 22) before visiting Planet Ice on Sunday (April 24, 5.30pm).
Sheffield have six points from four matches, two more than Phantoms and Basingstone with Swindon on two points. All four teams still have a chance of finishing in the top two and reaching Coventry. Swindon and Basingstoke meet twice next weekend.
Phantoms led 5-0 midway through the second period of a spicy affair in Basingstoke and although the home side rallied to 5-3 with 12 minutes to go in the match a Scott Robson goal in the 52nd minute secured the points.
Jasper Foster, Duncan Speirs, Jarvus Hunt, Ales Padelek and Glenn Billing also netted for Phantoms.
Last night Phantoms couldn’t take advantage of early superiority. They outshot their visitors 19-8 in a goalless first period.
The trend continued into the second period until Petr Stepanek fired Phantoms in front on 37:54.
Coach Slava Koulikov’s men now had one foot in finals weekend, but Basingstoke player/coach Ashley Tait blasted an effort beyond Jordan Marr from the blue line on a powerplay early in the final period.
And the Bison hit the front for the first time in the game with just over five minutes to play. Alex Roberts this time firing home an effort from the blue line, with Ales Padelek sitting in the Phantoms’ penalty box.
Tait sealed the deal in the closing moments with an empty net goal.