Peterborough Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov toasted a ‘complete performance’ from his side last night (October 29).
The city outfit continued a fine run of home form by thumping reigning English Premier League Cup and play-offs champions Guildford at Planet Ice.
And a final 5-0 scoreline was not in the least bit flattering after a dominant display featuring some slick attacking play and the sweetest of shut-outs for Janis Auzins.
While Phantoms provided all the treats in this pre-Hallowe’en showdown, the flustered Flames resorted to dirty tricks in a bid to unsettle the formidable Phantoms netminder.
But they were unable to beat Auzins legitimately or illegally as he dealt with all 33 shots on his goal while also helping himself to a late assist.
Koulikov said: “It was a game in which both teams were desperate for points to climb the table, and to win it in the manner we did is extremely pleasing.
“The guys executed the plan really well for the full 60 minutes. We usually tend to have a little slip at some point during a game, but this was a complete performance.
“We built up a strong lead and we stuck together to see it through against a team who became more and more frustrated.
“I’m pleased for and proud of every guy who stepped onto the ice. We are still missing players, we have others battling on through injuries, and others were ill during the week.”
Ales Padelek made the most emphatic of breakthroughs early on when blasting a thunderous shot past Guildford netminder Joonas Kuusela.
The advantage was doubled when fellow Czech forward, Peter Stepanek, provided the finish a Martin Susters pass deserved.
And Phantoms then clinched victory with a quickfire double-salvo in the second period as Stepanek and James White struck just 13 seconds apart.
Having failed to trouble Auzins with shots on goal, Guildford then resorted to the crude approach of dumping the Latvian on the deck at every opportunity.
Matic Kralj was the first to follow that course of course before Andrew McKinney left Auzins face-down on the ice behind his net.
Tempers threatened to boil over as McKinney made his way to the penalty box, only to then hop back out again as weak official Tim Pickett ruled no misdemeanour had been committed.
Auzins received treatment on and off the ice before returning to his crease to dish out his own retribution by giving Kralj a whack (an offence Pickett did manage to spot).
But for the fifth time on the night, Phantoms’ penalty-killing unit performed superbly before they cashed in a late powerplay to complete the scoring.
It all stemmed from a long Auzins pass as he picked out Tom Norton and the defenceman, called up by Great Britain for an international debut next week, found captain James Ferrara to slam in the 101st goal of his Phantoms career.
The victory lifted Phantoms up two places in the EPL standings to sixth, leapfrogging their victims in the process.
And Koulikov’s men now have a glorious opportunity to complete a first four-point weekend of the season tonight (October 30).
They bid to extend their finest winning run when travelling to face basement boys Bracknell at The Hive (6pm).
Phantoms have won their last 18 games against the lowly Bees – a run stretching back to 2013 – but they have been warned not to take their lowly hosts lightly.
“A four-point weekend is something we all want,” added Koulikov. “But it is a must that we go to Bracknell and perform.
“I know for a fact it will not be an easy game and we will need to put in another big shift for 60 minutes to come away with a win.”
7:14 Padelek ass: Levers/Norton
16:54 Stepanek ass: Susters/Weldon
32:03 Stepanek ass: Wallis/Norton
32:16 White ass: Pliskauskas/Levers
56:38 J. Ferrara (PP) ass: Norton/Auzins
PHANTOMS – Janis Auzins
GUILDFORD – David Savage