Peterborough Phantoms gave their fans a glimpse into the future last night (January 27), while keeping their present-day challenge for honours on track.
The city team triumphed 6-2 in a top-versus-bottom clash against NIHL Division One South basement boys Cardiff Fire at Planet Ice. The Welsh outfit, without a win all season and seriously short on manpower, put up considerably better resistance then when receiving two double-figure demolitions at the hands of Phantoms back in October.
In fact this contest briefly became a bit too close for comfort when Jordan Powell struck twice in quick succession in the final period to halve the Fire arrears. There was no need for any nail-biting or bottom-twitching though as Glenn Billing and Leigh Jamieson struck to ensure Phantoms’ mission to collect two points was accomplished.
As has become the norm in recent weeks, the performance which earned them could have been better, but the emergence of two highly-touted young talents certainly provided bright spots.
Defenceman Bradley Bowering and forward Jarvis Hunt were thrust into senior hockey after celebrating 16th birthdays in the past few days – and neither looked out of place.
Bowering, a Deepings School pupil from Paston, was particularly impressive as he contributed two assists during an assured display and was only denied a goal by a fine save from Fire netminder Jordan Lawday during the second period.
Phantoms head coach Slava Koulikov was understandably quick to praise his rookie duo and also saluted the efforts of the visitors.
He said: “We know we must make this a four-point weekend and we are halfway there now. The way we moved the puck at times pleased me even though we didn’t always get the end result in terms of goals.
“I’m really happy with the two young boys – Bradley and Jarvis – in their first senior games since turning 16 this month.
“Physically they are not ready to play regularly at this level, but this was a good opportunity to give them a taste of what it is all about and they showed the future is going to be very bright.
“Cardiff have a lot of injuries and turned up with low numbers. Huge respect to goes to them for battling in the way they did.
“They deserved a goal or two for their efforts and got them in the final period, but the main thing is that we won the game.”
Darius Pliskauskas was denied a rapid opener when hitting the inside of a post after just nine seconds. Phantoms had to wait until the seventh minute to eventually hit the front when Scott Robson fired in late on a powerplay.
A second goal from Nathan Salem soon followed before Leigh Jamieson got in on the act in the closing seconds of the session, but it was by no means a cakewalk.
Phantoms netminder Euan King had to race from his crease to make one important stop and then pulled off a smart double-save when Cardiff threatened again.
King made way for youngster Jack Peacock during a second period in which Pliskauskas provided the only Phantoms breakthrough and their four-goal cushion was halved by Powell’s brace in the final session.
But Billing gratefully converted a simple chance, created by slick work from James White and Ales Padelek, to seal the points for Phantoms before Jamieson completed the scoring on a powerplay in the closing minute.
Defenceman Robbie Ferrara played no part last night as he rests a minor injury. He’ll also sit out the return clash in the Welsh capital this evening (January 28, 6pm) when a win will send Phantoms four points clear at the summit.
6:20 Robson (PP) ass: Griffiths/Padelek
8:54 Salem ass: Jamieson
19:54 Jamieson ass: Weldon/Bowering
33: 29 Pliskauskas ass: Norton/Bowering
51:26 Billing ass: White/Padelek
59:42 Jamieson (PP) ass: J. Ferrara/Salem
43:08 Powell ass: Buglass/Allner
47:30 Powell ass: Allner/Haslam
Phantoms - Bradley Bowering
Cardiff Fire - Jordan Lawday