Peterborough Phantoms suffered overtime defeat as their opening NIHL Division One South fixture of the new season came complete with a controversial finish.
The city team were pipped 3-2 by London side Raiders at Planet Ice last night (September 22) with the visitors’ winner arriving in hotly-contested circumstances.
An Aaron Connolly goal, which appeared to hit the twine after the buzzer had sounded and with the clock already on zero, was allowed to stand by referee Stephen Matthews.
It was a finish which predictably left Phantoms head coach Slava Koulikov disappointed and frustrated.
He said: “Raiders were one of the teams to take points off us at home last season and unfortunately it has happened again.
“We didn’t deliver in the first period when we deserved to be down, but we were the better team from then on despite not always being as direct as we should be in the offensive zone.
“We got ahead but getting ourselves into penalty trouble in the third period cost us and we then lost the chance of the extra point due to a goal that shouldn’t have stood in my view.
“It’s very tough to judge without video replays, but I asked the referee how he could be so sure it was scored in time.
“He said he went from the buzzer which went slightly after the clock went to zero, but I don’t think that is right.
“The game should stop at zero, but it is done now and there is nothing we can do about it.”
Phantoms fell behind to a JJ Pitchley goal in the opening period and only smart saves from netminder Jordan Marr prevented the deficit from growing.
The city side were better in the second session when it was visiting goalie Michael Gray’s turn to shine.
Corey McEwen, James Ferrara, Scott Robson and Callum Buglass were among the players denied as Phantoms were unable to turn their dominance into goals.
That eventually happened in the third period when Gray was beaten twice in the space of four-and-a-half minutes during a quick turnaround.
McEwen rifled in a fine leveller on a powerplay before captain Ferrara struck to put them ahead when pouncing in a rebound after another McEwen effort had been kept out.
But Phantoms’ failed to see out the contest after being undone by a loss of discipline.
Will Weldon was thrown out for abuse of official Matthews after being called for tripping and Ferrara then picked up a soft hooking penalty.
Raiders pulled goalie Gray to give themselves a six-on-three advantage and they made it count almost immediately as high-scoring import Juraj Huska pounced.
Phantoms killed the remainder of Ferrara’s penalty to take the game to overtime where they peppered the Raiders goal.
Petr Stepanek thumped a shot against the bar while Gray was called upon to make several saves.
But the city were stung at the death as they had to settle for a single point - a tally they will aim to increase at Milton Keynes Thunder tonight (September 23, 6.45pm).
44.05 McEwen (PP) ass: J. Ferrara/Padelek
48.34 J. Ferrara ass: McEwen/Norton
14.11 Pitchley ass: Sedivy
58:28 Huska (PP) ass: Novak
65.00 A. Connolly ass: Huska
Phantoms - Jordan Marr
Raiders - Dan Scott