Results might not normally matter in pre-season . . . then again this was no ordinary pre-season game.
Peterborough Phantoms swept to a 4-1 triumph against fierce rivals Milton Keynes last night (September 3) in the opening leg of the two clubs’ traditional Ashes challenge clash.
It was a notable triumph for the new-look city side as they recovered from a difficult opening period to hit the front in the second session and then clinch victory with a late double – much to the delight of their coach Slava Koulikov.
“I said the results didn’t matter last weekend against Sheffield,” admitted Koulikov. “But whenever you play MK it has the feel of being much more like a proper game.
“It was good to see my guys show a lot of character to come from behind to pick up a result on the road. A win like this will certainly help our confidence going forward.
“MK dominated a lot of possession and created many chances in the first part of the game when we had to rely on our netminder playing very well.
“But we grew into the game and got ourselves ahead before we scored a couple of goals in the final period to seal the win.
“I have to give full credit to the guys for digging deep after not performing as we wanted to in the first period.
“Even with MK missing a few guys, they are still stronger than many teams. Their roster is full of good players and I can’t deny that I am pleased with where we at.”
Phantoms hit the Buckinghamshire ice at full-strength with new import forward Petr Stepanek and British capture James Archer getting their first taste of pre-season action after arriving earlier this week from stints playing in the Southern Hemisphere.
Long-serving Will Weldon also iced for the first time this summer while Milton Keynes were without four players including their two new Polish recruits, netminder Przemyslaw Odrobny and forward Mikolaj Lopuski, who were both on international duty.
But that didn’t stop the hosts from bossing the opening stanza and the only surprise was that it took until 12:39 for them to make a breakthrough.
It came from a predictable source as Craig Scott, who was Phantoms’ top-scorer last season, struck against them following his summer switch to Lightning.
Phantoms certainly unearthed a gem where the Anglo-Canadian ace Scott was concerned, and they could be about to do the same again with Slovakian sharp-shooter Mario Uhrik.
The locally-based forward, who could earn the fifth import slot on the club’s roster, levelled just under a quarter of the way through the middle period – his second goal in three try-out games for Phantoms after previously playing for the Peterborough Flyers recreational side.
Phantoms completed the turnaround less than two minutes before the buzzer as Stepanek struck his first goal in British hockey on a delayed penalty.
And they sealed the win with two goals, scored less than three minutes apart, in the final period as their two other import forwards – Ales Padelek and Darius Pliskauskas – found the net.
Koulikov added: “It is a new country and a new style of hockey for Petr and he will take time to adapt, but a goal and an assist will certainly help him to settle in.
“Mario got himself a goal again and is not doing himself any harm, that’s for sure.”
Phantoms host Milton Keynes tonight (September 4) in a return clash at Planet Ice (5.30pm).
12:39 Scott ass: Bakrlik/Hook
24:17 Uhrik ass: Archer
38:18 Stepanek (DP) ass: Robson
54:38 Padelek ass: Weldon/Norton
57:22 Pliskauskas (PP) ass: Stepanek/Archer
Milton Keynes – Milan Baranyk
Phantoms – James Archer