Peterborough Phantoms swept into the semi-finals of the NIHL Division One South play-offs last night (March 18).
The city team triumphed 7-2 at Milton Keynes thunder in the second leg of a quarter-final showdown to complete an emphatic 11-3 passage following a 4-1 success on home ice the previous night.
Head coach Slava Koulikov was delighted to see his men reel off a 10th successive victory in all competitions and also step up their level of performance during the weekend to advance to the last four, where they will now do battle with Swindon.
“It’s all about results at play-off time,” said Koulikov. “But, of course, we always want to play as well as we can.
“We didn’t quite do that on Saturday, but we were much better last night. The guys executed the plan really well and the tie was really over after the first period.
“From then on it was a case of ensuring we didn’t switch off and kept our momentum going into next weekend.
“We scored double figures across the weekend, we got through comfortably and we improved from Saturday to Sunday so I have to be happy.
“This was a big weekend. Next weekend is even bigger.”
Just as they did 24 hours earlier on home ice, Phantoms breezed into a three-goal advantage.
Captain James Ferrara needed less than three minutes to provide an opener before Ales Padelek and James White – the latter on a delayed penalty – struck just 74 seconds apart.
Thunder hit back through Grant McPherson and cut their arrears to a single goal on the night when Michael Stratford lit the lamp during the second period.
But that effort sparked an immediate and impressive response from Phantoms as three goals in little more than four minutes sealed their passage into the semi-finals.
Leigh Jamieson struck within a minute of Stratford and a powerplay effort from Padelek soon followed before defenceman Scott Robson got in on the act.
And that’s the way it stayed until the final minute when Nathan Salem completed an emphatic success for Phantoms, who now turn their attention to a second-versus-third clash against Swindon.
It’s also a revenge mission for the city side after they were eliminated by the Wildcats from the NIHL Autumn Cup – a competition they have since gone on to win – earlier in the season, but Phantoms bossed the league series as they claimed seven points from a possible eight.
The two teams are expected to meet in the first leg in Wiltshire on Saturday (March 24) ahead of a Sunday second-leg showdown at Planet Ice (March 25).
League champions Basingstoke will face fourth-placed London in the other semi-final as the leading four finishers all advanced.
NIHL Division One South Play-Offs
Quarter-finals, second leg: Invicta 1, Basingstoke 7 (Basingstoke win 13-1 on aggregate); Milton Keynes 2, Phantoms 7 (Phantoms win 11-3 on aggregate); Swindon 4, Streatham 2 (Swindon win 6-2 on aggregate); London 4, Bracknell 2 (London win 10-7 on aggregate).
16:24 McPherson ass: Carlon/O’Flaherty
32:02 Stratford ass: Mboya/Grinell Parke
2:49 J. Ferrara ass: Griffiths/Norton
13:05 Padelek ass: Norton/Billing
14:19 White (DP) ass: Pollard/Weldon
32:51 Jamieson ass: Padelek
34:13 Padelek (PP) ass: Jamieson/Weldon
36:57 Robson ass: Pollard/Weldon
59:27 Salem ass: Griffiths
Milton Keynes – Grant McPherson
Phantoms – James Ferrara