Peterborough Phantoms started the new English Premier League season in losing style last night (September 10).
The city team were undone by a pair of powerplay goals in the second period as they slipped to a 2-1 road defeat against Sheffield Steeldogs.
They could hardly have made a better start at iceSheffield as teenage defenceman Tom Stubley struck only 3:32 into his competitive Phantoms debut with a wrist-shot through traffic.
Plenty of trademark heroics from netminder Janis Auzins ensured they preserved their narrow lead until the first break, but even he was powerless to prevent the home side making the most of a couple of numerical advantages at opposite ends of the middle stanza.
Andrew Hirst was the player to fire past him from close range on both occasions as Sheffield levelled at 23:27 and then hit the front 17 seconds before the buzzer at 39:43.
Only the pipes denied Phantoms a second goal of their own in that period as Marc Levers struck a post during a powerplay of their own while captain James Ferrara tipped a good chance just wide during the same spell of five-on-four.
But Phantoms rarely looked like clawing themselves level in the final period when only two outstanding Auzins saves to deny Steeldogs import Pavel Mrna prevented their deficit from increasing.
“We wanted to start the season well and felt this fixture was a good opportunity to do that,” admitted Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov.
“We started well enough and got ourselves in front, but conceding two very similar powerplay goals was disappointing.
“Over the whole game, we didn’t create enough chances. It wasn’t a problem in pre-season, but it didn’t quite happen for us last night.
“There were a few positives, such as the performances of youngsters like Tom Stubley and Owen Griffiths, but certain guys in certain roles played a bit below par.
“All three of our import forwards were quiet and we really need points from them in such tight games.”
Phantoms swiftly turn their attention to a first home outing of the new EPL season tonight (September 11) as they host Swindon at Planet Ice (5.30pm).
The Wildcats also tasted defeat on the opening night of the campaign when going down 4-3 on home ice against Guildford.
23:27 Hirst (PP) ass: Kumeliauskas/Mrna
39:43 Hirst (PP) ass: Mrna/Wood
3:32 Stubley ass: Padelek/Levers
Sheffield - Ashley Calvert
Phantoms - Janis Auzins