There is no such thing as a sporting certainty, but Peterborough Phantoms beating Bracknell comes pretty close.
That was the case again last night (December 29) as the city team triumphed against the Bees for the 23rd meeting in succession - a staggering run stretching back to 2013.
But this 3-0 success at The Hive, which allowed Slava Koulikov’s men to leap up to third position in the English Premier League standings, was by no means a formality.
They arrived in Berkshire without three influential forwards - Darius Pliskauskas, Marc Levers and Will Weldon - but made light of the lack of numbers to take a stranglehold on the game in the opening session.
Less than three minutes had passed when Petr Stepanek fired them ahead and the big Czech forward soon struck again on a powerplay.
And a perfect start was completed when Sam Towner grabbed his second goal of the campaign with under nine minutes on the clock.
That also proved to be the end of the scoring on a night when Phantoms were worked hard by their lowly hosts.
Netminder Janis Auzins was required to make 38 saves to earn a fourth shut-out of the season - and second against Bracknell.
The win continues another fine Phantoms streak as they have won 13 of their final 16 matches of 2016. It’s a run which is ensuring they defy many predictions of a season of struggle with a new-look roster.
“It was a great result in Bracknell,” insisted coach Koulikov. “The guys worked hard for 60 minutes while short-staffed to make sure we came away with the two points and I’m delighted for Janis to get the shut-out.
“Everyone is excited about climbing up to third place in the table. It is a good achievement for a group of guys who are learning and improving all of the time.
“We gave them the target of competing in the top half of the league and we are managing to do that.”
But there is no time for Phantoms to savour their fine end to the year as they begin 2017 with back-to-back showdowns against the always fiery Sheffield Steeldogs.
The sides meet at Planet Ice on New Year’s Day (5.30pm) ahead of a swift return clash the following night (January 2, 7.30pm) in South Yorkshire.
2:52 Stepanek ass: Susters/Russell
6:15 Stepanek (PP) unassisted
8:56 Towner ass: Stepanek/Auzins
BRACKNELL - Matt Foord
PHANTOMS - Sam Towner
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