Head coach Slava Koulikov admitted Peterborough Phantoms were let down by their special teams when being beaten by a set of NIHL Division One South title rivals last night (January 26).
The city men went down 4-1 at Swindon with the Wiltshire side also leapfrogging them to move to the top of the standings.
Phantoms were undone by a flurry of three Wildcats goals in the space of little more than seven minutes during the second period – and the manner of them left Koulikov far from happy.
Edgars Bebris – once a play-offs winner with Phantoms – put Swindon ahead on a powerplay.
Their lead was then doubled by import Max Birbraer seconds after the hosts returned to a full complement of players following a Phantoms powerplay - and their problems really mounted when Swindon player-coach Aaron Nell was allowed to strike short-handed.
Phantoms did briefly cut their arrears through Nathan Pollard late on, but Swindon import Jonas Hoog had the final say with an unassisted effort.
“It was an even game when five-on-five,” insisted Koulikov. “But we lost it on special teams.
“We conceded while we were on the powerplay, just after a powerplay ended and while we were killing a penalty.
“It was as poor as I remember from our special teams and it’s something we have to address quickly. My main guys didn’t show up.
“We’d have been in trouble against Invicta or Milton Keynes, let alone against a top team like Swindon who are going for the title.”
The city club have now lost half of the 12 league games they’ve been involved in since lifting the NIHL Autumn Cup in mid-December.
All of those defeats have come at the hands of other top-four sides Swindon, Basingstoke and Bracknell although Phantoms did pick up a point in four of them.
Phantoms need a rapid return to form when hosting another title-chasing side, Basingstoke at Planet Ice tonight (January 27, 5.30pm).
The Bison now sit level with Phantoms in the standings with both teams a point behind new leaders Swindon.
“It’s a game we simply must win,” Koulikov added. “If you want to win the league with a third of the season left you can’t afford a weekend with zero points.”
Phantoms were again without defenceman Bradley Bowering and Nathan Long due to injuries last night.
29.37 Bebris (PP) ass: Nell/Hoog
33.15 Birbraer ass: Whitfield/Liddiard
36.58 Nell (SH) ass: Hoog/Godfrey
57.40 Hoog unassisted
55.13 Pollard ass: Buglass
SWINDON – Max Birbraer
PHANTOMS – Jordan Marr