Peterborough Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov was disappointed by the outcome, but not the performance his side produced, last night (February 19).
The city team were beaten 6-5 by table-topping Telford to complete a high-scoring weekend which began with a surprise 7-6 home reverse at the hands of bottom side Bracknell, after penalty shots, 24 hours earlier.
And while their Saturday showing did leave plenty to be desired, Koulikov was much happier with the display of his short-staffed roster in Shropshire against a Tigers side now almost certain to be crowned champions.
Phantoms led twice during an exciting contest which was eventually settled by the only one of the 11 goals to arrive in the final period. Sadly, for Phantoms, it came from Telford import Milan Kolena.
Koulikov said: “We’ve been involved in a couple of high-scoring games this weekend, but come out on the wrong side of the scorelines.
“We were disappointed which what we produced against Bracknell, but I was very proud of the performance from my guys against a Telford team on the verge of winning the title.
“If we can play at that level for the remainder of the season, we will have a good chance of being able to challenge for trophies. All the top-end guys impressed and everyone else did the job we expect of them.
“We would normally win games in which we score five and six goals, but we are so light defensively at the moment that this is an unusual situation. It’s certainly no reflection on the guys that have played.”
Phantoms started smartly to open up a lead in the first period, but just as 24 hours earlier against opponents from the opposite end of the EPL, they failed to hold it.
Edgars Bebris’ snap-shot broke the deadlock before Ales Padelek got the final touch to double the advantage.
Telford hit back with a powerplay strike from Doug Clarkson and then levelled in the same manner with the first of seven goals to be scored in the second period.
Parity lasted less than a minute as Adam Taylor fired the hosts ahead only for Phantoms to respond with a quick double-salvo of their own from Darius Pliskauskas and Petr Stepanek – a player described as ‘magnificent’ by Koulikov - to edge back into the driving seat.
An action-packed contest continued with Lubomir Korhon dragging Telford level, but there was still time for both sides to light the lamp in the final minute of the stanza.
Adam Taylor grabbed his second goal of the night to hand Telford a lead which lasted for just 27 seconds as Stepanek cashed in a Phantoms powerplay.
It left a high-scoring contest delicately poised and it was settled by one further goal in the final period from Tigers man Kolena.
Defeat was harsh on a Phantoms side without defenceman Ben Russell, who had an outing for Islanders, and import forward Wehebe Darge, who has an upper body injury.
Phantoms also lost defenceman Nathan Long after he was left shaken by a hit early in the game.
After having to settle for a one-point weekend, the city side now look ahead to a one-game weekend. Koulikov’s men entertain Basingstoke in a third-versus-fourth clash on Sunday (February 26, 5.30pm).
17:59 Clarkson (PP) unassisted
24:34 Clarkson (PP) ass: Weaver/Gospel
25:23 Taylor ass: Korhon/Oakford
37:05 Korhon ass: Taylor/O’Flaherty
39:25 Taylor ass: Weaver/Zajac
45:58 Kolena ass: McEwen/Weaver
8:58 Bebris ass: Levers/Pliskauskas
13:44 Padelek ass: Stepanek
32:47 Pliskauskas ass: Bebris/Levers
33:31 Stepanek ass: Padelek/Archer
39:52 Stepanek (PP) ass: Pliskauskas/Levers
TELFORD – Adam Taylor
PHANTOMS – Petr Stepanek