All good things must come to an end . . . and last night (November 18) the super Peterborough Phantoms streak was halted by the NIHL Division One South title favourites.
The city team, who had reeled off 10 consecutive league victories (and were unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions), succumbed to a 5-3 loss to table-topping Swindon at Planet Ice.
Phantoms recently edged out the Wildcats over two legs to reach the NIHL Autumn Cup final, but the Wiltshire side claimed a slice of revenge to strengthen their position at the league summit.
A breakaway goal from Swindon player-coach Aaron Nell provided the only breakthrough of the opening session with both sides later unable to take advantage of lengthy five-on-three powerplay situations.
Phantoms were frequently thwarted by inspired Wildcats netminder Renny Marr in that first period, but they levelled within 30 seconds of the middle stanza as Ales Padelek classily struck from a tight angle during a powerplay.
But that goal merely served to sting Swindon back into life as forward Loris Taylor helped himself to a match-changing, 14-minute hat-trick to put the away side in command.
Petr Stepanek pounced in the final minute of the period to give Phantoms hope of a revival but that was snatched away when skipper Jan Kostal added a fifth goal for Swindon.
Will Weldon did nick a consolation when getting the final touch to a Padelek shot before the Phantoms import brought the crowd to their feet by dishing out a good hiding to Wildcats defenceman Sam Jones late on.
But it was Swindon who packed more of a punch overall to take victory in the first of six league meetings between these two sides which are sure to have a huge impact on determining the destination of the silverware.
Phantoms head coach Slava Koulikov was left to reflect on the fine margins between victory and defeat.
He said: “We can all be very proud of the good run we’ve been on, but it was always going to come to an end at some point.
“It is not easy to win a hockey game when conceding five goals and we have to give credit to Aaron and his Swindon guys for scoring that number in our rink.
“We created a lot of what I would call Grade A chances, but couldn’t put the puck away and they are the opportunities that have to be taken in big games in any sport.
“We could also have done better defensively for a couple of the Swindon goals which came from our mistakes.
“Even though we didn’t always play our best hockey, we now know we can fight with every team at this level and we look forward to the many battles in the months ahead.”
Phantoms remain third in the NIHL Division One South standings. They now trail Swindon by four points but boast two games in hand.
Koulikov’s men Phantoms face the team at the other end of the spectrum this Saturday (November 24) when hosting rock-bottom Invicta at Planet Ice. A trip to Raiders follows the next night (November 25).
20.29 Padelek (PP) ass: Susters/J. Ferrara
39.11 Stepanek ass: Susters/Robson
56.05 Weldon ass: Padelek/J. Ferrara
10.31 Nell ass: Bebris/Birbraer
22.48 L. Taylor ass: F. Taylor/Whitfield
26.28 L. Taylor ass: Birbraer/C. Jones
36.42 L. Taylor ass: Rutkis/Plews
48.41 Kostal ass: Bebris/Nell
PHANTOMS - Ales Padelek
SWINDON - Renny Marr