Peterborough Phantoms made an immediate return to winning ways last night (November 24).
The city team bounced back from defeat to table-toppers Swindon in their previous outing by easing past basement boys Invicta with a 4-0 victory at Planet Ice.
And while there was no repeat of the 13-1 destruction seen in the Kent side’s last visit to Bretton little more than a month ago, Phantoms comfortably put two more points on the board in their chase for the title. A shot count of 59-16 demonstrated their dominance even if the scoreline wasn’t quite as emphatic.
They were frequently thwarted by one of their former players – Invicta netminder Adam Long – during an opening period of one-way traffic and the scoreline was still blank as the clock ticked past the mid-point of the contest.
But, just as they could have been forgiven for allowing frustration to set in, Phantoms produced a match-winning flurry of three goals in less than five minutes.
Corey McEwen’s powerplay opener was quickly followed by James White pouncing on another numerical advantage before big Petr Stepanek forced in a third.
The Czech forward then made the only breakthrough of the final period when finishing smartly on a short-handed breakaway.
A couple of rare Invicta forays into Phantoms’ territory drew good saves from netminder Jordan Marr as he did 99 per-cent of the work in a first shut-out of the season.
The remainder of that task was completed by 16 year-old local lad Luke Clark, who made a brief first appearance at senior level when replacing Marr’s regular back-up Ryan Bainborough, who picked up an injury in practice the previous evening.
“It is clear Invicta have improved since our last games against them,” said Koulikov. “They had a better structure, worked hard and wanted to bring the game to us.
“It is always difficult for a team to motivate themselves when they are facing opponents they have already beaten heavily twice this season.
“Full credit to Invicta for the way they performed, but at the same time we played alright ourselves.
“We were pretty dominant with a lot of possession and the goals eventually came for us in the second half of the game even though we weren’t quite as direct as we normally are.
“We came so close to getting the shut-out in Streatham last Saturday but then gave a sloppy goal away in the last minute, so it’s nice to make up for that now.
“Unfortunately we didn’t quite manage to get Luke the amount of minutes we wanted to as we were killing penalties, but he got a little taste of senior hockey and made a save too.”
Phantoms remain third in the NIHL Division One South standings, four points behind leaders Swindon but with two games in hand.
Koulikov’s men head to Romford today (November 25, 5.30pm) to take on Raiders.
32.33 McEwen (PP) ass: Susters/Robson
35.05 White (PP) ass: McEwen/Susters
37.21 Stepanek ass: Susters
50.38 Stepanek (SH) ass: McEwen
PHANTOMS - Petr Stepanek
INVICTA - Lewis English