Coach Slava Koulikov praised the character of his depleted Peterborough Phantoms side as they came from behind three times to pocket an English Premier League point last night (March 19)
The city side – without five rested players ahead of the upcoming play-offs – recovered from 2-1, 4-2 and 5-3 deficits before eventually going down 6-5 in overtime to Guildford Flames.
Koulikov gave import netminder Janis Auzins, defensive duo Cam McGiffin and Robbie Ferrara, and forward Marc Levers the penultimate night of the regular season off with runners-up spot having already been clinched. They also lost Scott Robson after he sustained a facial injury. which required hospital treatment, in his first shift of the night.
But those things didn’t stop Phantoms delivering a much-improved display compared to the 9-1 mauling they suffered in the same building earlier this month in the opening leg of the EPL Cup final.
And there was also an emergence of a young talent to please Koulikov. Defenceman Callum Medcalf (who featured in a makeshift back-line along with Lloyd Gibson) impressed in his senior debut while his Under 18s team-mate Jake Peacock took on back-up netminding duties with Adam Long making his second EPL start.
Koulikov said: “Both teams knew they could not move places in the league table, but that didn’t stop them producing a good level of hockey.
“It was a good response from the guys after the result on our last visit to Guildford, especially as we showed great character to come from behind three times to get a point.
“It is very tough to do that against Guildford with a full-strength team, let alone with a lot of guys missing.
“But that gave an opportunity to Callum and he took it really well. He is a player I have monitored for a while and it was great to see him come in and do such a good job.
“Adam also deserved a full game against a top team after not letting us down whenever he has been called upon.”
Phantoms hit the front through Darius Pliskauskas during an early powerplay, but the hosts responded when Marcus Kristofferson struck on a numerical advantage of their own.
Andrew McKinney then gave Flames the edge before Craig Scott levelled with another powerplay effort.
They were behind again just after the mid-point of the match when a Ben Campbell effort was adjudged to have crossed the line and their arrears increased when Tom Duggan slotted in a fourth Guildford goal.
Pliskauskas and Campbell then hit their second goals of the night to maintain the two-goal cushion before Phantoms rallied to snatch a point.
Martins Susters’ effort bounced past Flames netminder Richard Ullberg before pulling Long worked a treat as Gibson to level with 72 seconds to go.
That set up five minutes of sudden-death, but Guildford needed only 38 seconds to secure the extra point when Campbell completed his treble. He certainly has a knack of settling clashes in overtime after doing the same at Planet Ice last month.
Phantoms complete their regular-season schedule with a home clash against Sheffield tonight (5.30pm). They have won all five previous outings against the Steeldogs this term.
Sheffield are also their likeliest opponents in the quarter-final round of the play-offs.
17:13 Campbell (PP) ass: Kristofferson/Eriksson
26:04 McKinney ass: Duggan
31:49 Campbell ass: Phillips/Lundin
47:50 Duggan ass: Ozolins
52:15 Campbell ass: Eriksson/Kristofferson
60:38 Duggan ass: Campbell/Lundin
5:20 Pliskauskas (PP) ass: Padelek/Norton
28:42 Scott (PP) unassisted
49:41 Pliskauskas ass: Weldon/Bebris
54:55 Susters ass: Pick/Buckman
58:48 Gibson ass: Pliskauskas/Norton