It was a case of job done for Peterborough Phantoms last night (January 3).
A 4-0 success over bottom side Bracknell provided a smooth start to 2015 for a team in the thick of the race for a top-four finish in the English Premier League.
It was steady (and occasionally scrappy) rather than spectacular stuff from Slava Koulikov’s side as they gradually built a match-winning advantage.
Edgars Bebris bundled in an early opener, but they had to wait until the second minute of the second session to extend their advantage courtesy of Luke Ferrara.
Marc Levers marked his return from injury with a clinical powerplay third before skipper James Ferrara put the result beyond doubt with a fine fourth that pinged in off the underside of the bar just past the mid-point of the final stanza.
The pipes prevented Darius Pliskauskas from doing further damage while visiting man-of-the-match Tom Annetts made the last of many saves in the final second to deny Alan Lack a farewell Phantoms goal.
Lack instead had to content himself with a couple of assists while those hoping he would pack a punch during his last home outing for the club were left disappointed.
There was no sniff of a fight for a player never afraid to let his fists fly, but team-mate Mason Webster stepped up to the plate in style when giving Bees man James Galazzi a good pasting late on.
It was a triumph which came complete with a second shut-out of the season for Janis Auzins - a notable achievement on a night when Phantoms were short-staffed defensively.
Import Edgars Apelis played no part in the game due to a groin problem while Cameron McGiffin lasted only one period as he continues to recover from illness.
It certainly wasn’t a formality either as the Auzins made fine contributions in all three periods, including a double-save in the final 30 seconds, to preserve his clean sheet.
Boss Koulikov said: “It was important to win our first game of the new year and we did that with a decent performance.
“We had to work hard against a Bracknell team fighting for every point as they try to get off the bottom of the table and into the play-offs.
“We scored a few goals and the shut-out was very pleasing. Janis came up with some big saves when he was called upon.”
Phantoms travel to table-topping Telford tonight (January 4, 5.30pm face-off).
The runaway leaders were beaten 3-2 after penalties in Basingstoke last night and Koulikov added: “Telford certainly won’t have enjoyed losing last night and they will want to make up for it against us.
“We have two points from the weekend already and our challenge is to put in the best possible performance in Telford and see where that takes us.”
4:14 Bebris ass: Lack/Weldon
21:57 L. Ferrara ass: Bebris/Norton
35:11 Levers (PP) ass: Lack/Koulikov
51:40 J. Ferrara ass: Pliskauskas
Phantoms – Marc Levers
Bracknell – Tom Annetts