Four-point weekends don’t come much better than the one just enjoyed by Peterborough Phantoms.
The city team beat their two biggest rivals for the NIHL Division One title on successive nights as they followed up a super 4-2 Saturday (December 1) triumph at leaders Swindon by thumping third-placed Bracknell at Planet Ice last night (December 2).
The final 7-3 scoreline was an accurate reflection of a contest in which Phantoms were nearly always dominant and blew the Bees away during an explosive second period.
Delighted head coach Slava Koulikov said: “We played the two teams in the league who were above us going into the weekend and I can’t ask for any more than four points.
“We stuck to our gameplan really well to get a huge win in Swindon on Saturday after losing to them at home recently.
“It was important to pick up from where we left off against Bracknell and the scoreline reflects the performance produced by every single member of our squad.
“We scored 11 goals during the course of the weekend with a lot of guys contributing and a lot of them being of a very high quality.
“I couldn’t be happier and, as I’m sure you can imagine, the mood in the changing room is very positive.”
Phantoms were briefly behind against Bracknell to an Aidan Doughty effort in the opening period, but they turned the game before the buzzer sounded.
Rising star Jarvis Hunt displayed confidence and composure way beyond his 16 years to waltz through the Bees’ zone to level before Scott Robson forced in a second goal from a James White pass.
A classy individual effort from Bracknell man Ryan Watt restored parity early in the second period but that merely sparked Phantoms into top gear.
Ales Padelek and Martins Susters produced fine efforts less than 90 seconds apart to put the hosts in control and prompt a sudden change of netminder from Bracknell with Dean Skinns unceremoniously hooked in favour of Danny Milton.
The new man fared little better as he was twice beaten by another quick double-salvo from a by now rampant Phantoms.
Susters added his second with a peach of a shot on a powerplay before player-coach Tom Norton added another goal on a numerical advantage to his fast-growing collection.
Phantoms continued to pour forward at every opportunity in the final session when Padelek missed the target in a breakaway situation and Corey McEwen was twice denied by Milton (once with the aid of a post) before Nathan Long completed their goal haul with a shot from the blue line.
At the other end, netminder Jordan Marr pulled off a series of fine stops before being beaten by Shaun Thompson, who gobbled up his own rebound, late on.
That was nothing more than a consolation for the well-beaten Bees who, like Swindon 24 hours earlier, learned that Koulikov’s men are the real deal.
Phantoms are now a point behind Swindon with two games in hand on the Wildcats. They did temporarily top last night as their fixture finished more than an hour ahead of Swindon’s emphatic 6-2 success at Streatham.
The weekend double also provided the perfect preparation for Phantoms’ tilt for honours this week. They go to Sheffield on Wednesday (December 4) for the opening leg of the NIHL Autumn Cup final. The return clash is at Planet Ice on December 14.
Their next league fixtures are at lowly Milton Keynes Thunder on Saturday (December 8) ahead of the latest instalment of the rivalry against Swindon the following night (December 9) at Planet Ice.
13.40 Hunt ass: Weldon
18.11 Robson ass: White/Susters
26.34 Padelek unassisted
28.02 Susters ass: Stepanek/McEwen
35.54 Susters (PP) ass: McEwen/Stepanek
37.27 Norton (PP) ass: Billing/Bowering
45.34 Long ass: White/Weldon
12.35 Doughty ass: Antonio/Smith
25.05 Watt ass: B. Baird
58.55 Thompson ass: Mogg
PHANTOMS - Martins Susters
BRACKNELL - Roman Malinik