Peterborough Phantoms follow a rousing comeback with a heavy defeat as a tough run of games takes its toll
Slava Koulikov’s men produced a stunning Saturday (March 7) revival to snatch a 7-6 success against Hull in the NIHL National Division at Planet Ice – despite trailing by two goals with just six minutes to go.
It was a tremendous show of character as they bounced back from the disappointment of being beaten 6-4 by Telford the previous evening in the first leg of the NIHL National Cup final.
But a hectic schedule seemed to take it’s toll last night (March 8) when Phantoms were thumped 7-2 on the road by red-hot Raiders who recorded a sixth successive win in the process.
Phantoms and Hull sides shared four goals in the opening period of their Saturday clash with a Martins Susters opener and a Nathan Pollard powerplay strike sandwiching a Matty Davies brace for the Pirates.
Player-coach Tom Norton put a third Phantoms goal on a plate for Will Weldon in the second period before Conor Pollard got in on the act on a powerplay, but a two-goal lead then became a two-goal deficit.
A brace of Sam Towner powerplay efforts brought Hull level before strikes from Lee Bonner and player-coach Jason Hewitt put the visitors in command.
But Phantoms weren’t about to roll over as captain James Ferrara launched their fightback before Norton levelled with a trademark blast from the blue line.
And they weren’t done there as Susters fired in a dramatic winner with just over a minute to go.
Koulikov said: “We fought to the end despite playing a hard game in a cup final the previous night and we got our rewards with the two points.
“Our first period was really poor even though it was a level game, but we were then the better team five-on-five and it was only penalties – and the swings of momentum they bring - that got us in a bit of trouble.
“But again the guys really showed their character to come back from two goals down in the final period against a fresh and very dangerous Hull team.”
The win came at a high cost with Phantoms losing defenceman Joe Hazeldine and Brad Bowering to injuries.
They were both missing as the city side were put in their place by Raiders last night.
Phantoms briefly led in Romford as Glenn Billing tipped in an Ales Padelek shot on the powerplay, but the hosts soon turned the tie.
Jake Sylvester levelled as Raiders made the most of a numerical advantage before former Peterborough man Erik Piatak completed the turnaround.
A third goal from JJ Pitchley followed and Phantoms were then stung by two more Raiders strikes in the space of 20 seconds early in the middle session.
Aaron Connolly and Blaho Novak added their names to the scoresheet with Koulikov reacting by hooking back-up netminder Ryan Bainborough in favour of first-choice Jordan Marr.
Weldon grabbed a goal back for Phantoms but any thoughts of a fightback from Koulikov’s tired troops were ended by a second from Piatak.
Lukas Sladkovsky then completed the scoring for Raiders early in the final period after Novak intercepted an errant pass from goaltender Marr.
“Raiders are in championship form even though they are sitting eighth in the table,” added Koulikov.
“They are fighting for the final play-off spot whereas we had our biggest game of the season on Friday and another intense game on Saturday.
“There is no doubt the fatigue is there both physically and mentally, but my guys went out there to do their best.
“It was just a case of us coming up against a team fighting for a play-off spot and on a roll at the moment.”
Phantoms, who remain third in the table, now switch their attention back to the NIHL National Cup final with a second-leg trip to Telford on Wednesday (March 11).
The city men head to Shropshire with a two-goal deficit on aggregate after losing 6-4 to the table-topping Tigers in the first leg last Friday (March 6) night.
Phantoms then face two crucial league clashes this weekend when facing the teams directly above and below them.
They travel to fourth-placed Basingstoke on Saturday (March 14, 6.30pm) ahead of a Sunday (March 15) home showdown against second-placed Swindon (5.30pm).
SATURDAY MATCH DETAILS
2.51 Susters ass: McEwen/Buglass
16.29 N. Pollard (PP) ass: C. Pollard/Stepanek
24.22 Weldon ass: Norton
27.54 C. Pollard (PP) ass: Susters/Stepanek
54.35 J. Ferrara unassisted
57.27 Norton (PP) ass: J. Ferrara
58.58 Susters ass: Stepanek
4.59 Davies ass: Kirk/Stubley
13.42 Davies ass: Towner/Archer
31.57 Towner (PP) ass: Bissonnette/Davies
43.06 Towner (PP) ass: Hewitt/Davies
43.41 Bonner ass: Bissonnette/Hewitt
50.29 Hewitt ass: Bissonnette
PHANTOMS – James Ferrara
HULL – Matt Bissonnette
SUNDAY MATCH DETAILS
12.35 Sylvester (PP) ass: Scott/Ayliffe
16.41 Piatak ass: Ayliffe
18.43 Pitchley ass: Sladkovsky/Novak
20.51 Connolly ass: Ayliffe/Scott
21.11 Novak ass: Barry/Cooper
33.48 Piatak ass: Wells/Gray
41.20 Sladkovsky ass: Novak
10.35 Billing (PP) ass: Padelek/Norton
24.58 Weldon ass: N. Pollard/Robson
RAIDERS – Erik Piatak
PHANTOMS – Petr Stepanek