Peterborough Phantoms have one hand on a third trophy in a tremendous season after taking command of the NIHL Division South play-off final last night (April 6).
The city men roared to a 7-4 victory in Bracknell in the first leg of a silverware showdown which continues at Planet Ice tonight (April 7) when Slava Koulikov’s stars will be hot favourites to complete an honours treble for only the second time in club history.
Phantoms struck three times in the opening period to gain the upper hand and stretched their advantage to 5-0 at one stage of the middle stanza during an accomplished away performance as they aim to add to a collection of honours already featuring the NIHL Autumn Cup and NIHL South Cup.
“We wanted to make sure we brought the tie home with a chance of winning and we have more than done that,” said Koulikov.
“The guys executed the tactics superbly and it was a terrific team effort against a team who always battle hard in their building.
“We lost two of our three games in Bracknell in the regular season and were also behind after two periods in the second leg of the cup semi-final.
“To come away from there with a three-goal lead has put us in a great position, but we can’t get carried away as we know Bracknell put out the league champions, Swindon, in the semi-finals and they are a very dangerous team.”
Captain James Ferrara fired Phantoms into an early lead before powerplay strikes from Glenn Billing and Martins Susters gave them a three-goal cushion at the end of the opening period.
And that advantage increased further in the middle session thanks to goals from Nathan Pollard and Ales Padelek, which arrived less than 90 seconds apart, before Stuart Mogg put Brackell on the board with a powerplay effort.
Petr Stepanek hit a sixth Phantoms goal only 55 seconds later with Bees import Roman Malinik then striking before Josh Martin added a third for Bracknell in the early stages of the final period.
Two rival imports then hit their second goals of the evening with Padelek completing Phantoms’ haul before Malinik gave the Bees slightly more hope inside the final minute.
But it is Phantoms who will hit their own Bretton ice tonight (5.30pm) in pole position to capture the play-off crown and Koulikov has called on the club’s fans to create a white-hot atmosphere on what promises to be another famous occasion.
He added: “It would be a dream come true for everyone involved in the Phantoms organisation to win a third piece of silverware.
“We’ve already been lucky enough to lit two trophies in front of our fans this season and hopefully we can celebrate again.
“We know the job is far from finished, though. We have to produce another performance of the standard we did last night and hopefully the crowd will be our sixth man.”
31.02 Mogg (PP) ass: Antonov/Smith
34.14 Malinik unassisted
44.02 Martin ass: Stead/Galazzi
59.21 Malinik ass: Antonov
5.41 J. Ferrara ass: Billing/R. Ferrara
16.32 Billing (PP) ass: Padelek
18.36 Susters (PP) ass: Stepanek/McEwen
26.36 Pollard ass: Weldon
28.02 Padelek unassisted
31.57 Stepanek ass: Susters
56.13 Padelek ass: Pollard/White
BRACKNELL – Scott Spearink
PHANTOMS – Glenn Billing