To suggest that Peterborough Phantoms will have tougher weekends in their chase for National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) Division One South honours is a strong contender for sporting understatement of the century.
The table-topping city men dished out back-to-back double-figure destructions of depleted basement side Cardiff Fire – easing to a 10-0 success at the Ice Arena Wales last night (October 1) to follow up a 13-1 home rout the previous evening.
There were two levels between these teams last season as Phantoms battled for honours in the only English Premier League and Cardiff collected a second successive title in NIHL Division Two South (West).
The gulf has looked considerably bigger than that in the past couple of days with Phantoms cementing their position at the summit with the minimum of fuss. They’ve now reeled off five successive league wins in the new campaign.
Welsh wizard Owen Griffiths topped the Phantoms’ scoring chart last night with a hat-trick in his home city. Ales Padelek, who hit a treble the previous evening, had to settle for a brace on this occasion.
That was matched by fellow import Darius Pliskauskas, who contributed one slick short-handed goal and another effort on a powerplay.
Youngster Jack Escott (who struck a first senior goal), James White (who continues to excel in the early weeks of the campaign) and Glenn Billing (who fortuitously took Phantoms into double-figures late on) were the other men to find the net.
And unlike the previous night, Phantoms managed to keep their opponents at bay. That meant a combined shut-out for netminders Adam Long and Jack Peacock, who again played approximately half of the game each.
Cardiff’s teenage goaltender Lewis Davies was beaten 23 times during the course of the weekend, but he performed with great credit in both games while regularly being left in a hopeless predicament by a team missing a host of players.
Assistant coach Jason Buckman said: “We all know Cardiff are lacking the quality to compete right now, but we could only beat the opposition in front of us.
“It was highly likely that both games would result in easy wins, but it was about getting into good habits for the many tougher tests that lie ahead.
“That is something we drummed into the guys throughout the weekend. Those little things and finer details are really important.
“It was also pleasing to see the youngsters – lads like Jack and Taylor Romeo – do so well. They are really growing game-by-game.
“We’re all happy to be top of the table, but myself, Slava (head coach Koulikov) and the guys all recognise we still have plenty more to give.
“It’s a confidence boost for them to be so prolific, but we know it will be a completely different ball game next weekend.”
Phantoms, who were without defenceman Greg Pick last night due to a family bereavement, now turn their attention to two other competitions.
They will be out for revenge against Hull in a NIHL National Cup, Group B clash at Planet Ice on Saturday (October 7, 7pm). The Pirates beat them 6-3 in the reverse fixture to inflict their only defeat of the season so far.
And Phantoms then head to Sheffield for a lunchtime NIHL Autumn Cup, Group 1 clash against the Steeldogs the following day (October 8, 1pm).
28:26 Pliskauskas (SH)
56:14 Pliskauskas (PP)
Cardiff – Chris Hart
Phantoms – Owen Griffiths