Peterborough Phantoms were left frustrated by the frame of the goal as they were pipped to the English Premier League points in Basingstoke last night (January 10).
The city men struck a post on three occasions in a 4-3 loss that was particularly cruel on netminder Janis Auzins who impressed while facing 51 shots – almost double the tally of 26 managed by his own team.
Phantoms took to the ice with a depleted defensive corps following the exit of import Edgars Apelis and the loss of James Hutchinson to a knee injury.
They fell behind to a goal from Nicky Chinn, but struck twice in as many minutes to hold the advantage at the first break.
Marc Levers levelled before Milan Baranyk fired them ahead and Darius Pliskauskas came within a whisker of extending the advantage when becoming the first Phantoms man to be denied by a post in the final minute of the period.
Levers also found the pipes before goals from Chinn and Tomas Karpov then put the hosts back on top. Phantoms’ running battle with the goal frame continued as Baranyk was thwarted on a powerplay late in the session.
A short-handed rocket from Ciaran Long extended Basingstoke’s advantage late on, but Phantoms responded little more than a minute later as Baranyk claimed his second of the night by bundling in on a delayed penalty.
They pulled Auzins with 52 seconds remaining, but couldn’t make the extra skater count.
Phantoms coach Slava Koulokiv admitted the better team won the match. He said: “I have to give full credit to Basingstoke as they were the best team on the night.
“They out-shot us and out-worked us for the majority of the game, but that is understandable as we have guys struggling with injury and others not in full game-shape after being out.”
Phantoms remain third in the English Premier League standings, but could drop to fifth ahead of their return to league action on January 21 when they entertain bottom side Bracknell in a rare midweek fixture at Planet Ice. Swindon and last night’s conquerors Basingstoke could both leapfrog them in the coming days.
Phantoms begin a run of three remaining English Challenge Cup games when entertaining lower-level Solway Sharks at Planet Ice tonight (January 11, 5.30pm).
9:38 Chinn ass: Wynn/Mogg
27:35 Chinn ass: Mogg
32:41 Karpov ass: Sheppard
53:13 Long (SH) unassisted
13:20 Levers ass: J. Ferrara/L. Ferrara
14:55 Baranyk ass: J. Ferrara/Bebris
54:16 Baranyk (DP) ass: Pliskauskas/Norton
Basingstoke – Joe Rand
Phantoms – Janis Auzins