Peterborough Phantoms claimed the scalp of the NIHL Division One South leaders last night (October 21) when contiuing their winning streak,
A 5-4 triumph in a thriller at table-topping Bracknell Bees provided a sixth successive victory in all competitions for Slava Koulikov’s side – and it was a particularly pleasing one given it arrived against the coach (Doug Sheppard) and a number of the players who pipped the city side to the title when at Basingstoke last season.
Phantoms saw a two-goal advantage at the end of the opening period at The Hive turn into a one-goal deficit at two-thirds distance, but they regained the initiative in the final stanza to pocket the points.
A Harry Ferguson leveller and a short-handed Petr Stepanek winner - both scored in delayed penalty situations – sealed an eye-catching result.
“It was a pretty even game,” said Koulikov. “But we showed great character in the third period to fight back and we deserved the two points.
“They are two huge points against a team containing a lot of players and a coach who won the title last season.
“We’ve always had great battles against Doug’s teams and I’m really happy that we came out on top in this one.
“We beat a very good team – one of two along with Swindon who are the favourites for trophies in my opinion – and I’ll be very surprised if they don’t finish first and second.
“But we will always fight for every point and we’re just focusing on trying to keep winning games.”
Phantoms took advantage of an early powerplay as Corey McEwen fired them ahead, but Bracknell were soon on terms thanks to Ivan Antonov.
A third goal inside the opening eight minutes put Phantoms back ahead as Ales Padelek found the net and he struck again as the first period entered its final minute to increase the advantage and prompt Bracknell into a change of netminder as Dean Skinns was replaced by Danny Milton.
But the middle session was all about the Bees as they turned their two-goal deficit into a lead with three unanswered strikes.
Import Roman Malinik bagged the first of them just 61 seconds after the action resumed before Antonov struck again on a delayed penalty to restore parity.
James Galazzi’s powerplay effort then handed the hosts the initiative but Phantoms responded by delivering a turnaround of their own in the third period.
Summer signing Ferguson chose an excellent moment to fire his first Phantoms goal to level on a delayed penalty before prolific import Stepanek grabbed the winner even though the city side were at a numerical disadvantage at the time.
The success last night lifted Phantoms up to third in the NIHL Division One South standings. They are six points behind leaders Bracknell but boast five matches in hand.
Koulikov’s men have an excellent opportunity to close that gap tonight (October 21) when they entertain rock-bottom Invicta at Planet Ice, 5.30pm.
“It’s very important to follow up the fine result in Bracknell,” added Koulikov. “We can’t allow any complacency to creep in.
“We gave a lot of praise to boys in the locker room last night for what they did against Bracknell, but we also asked them to ensure they arrive at the rink today with full focus and ready to perform for 60 minutes.”
Defenceman Scott Robson is a doubt after suffering facial damage when being hit by a puck last night. He completed the game in Bracknell wearing a cage but was due to seek hospital treatment when returning to Peterborough.
6.17 Antonov ass: Malinik
21.01 Malinik ass: Antonov/Doughty
30.33 Antonov (DP) ass: Malinik/Baird
34.24 Galazzi (PP) ass: Stead/Thompson
2.26 McEwen (PP) ass: Norton
7.08 Padelek ass: Buglass/J. Ferrara
19.00 Padelek ass: J. Ferrara/Billing
41.41 Ferguson (DP) ass: Stepanek/Norton
54.20 Stepanek (DP) unassisted
BRACKNELL – Ivan Antonov
PHANTOMS – Callum Buglass