Peterborough Phantoms enjoyed a return to winning NIHL Division One South ways last night (February 24).
The city side triumphed 3-1 at basement boys Invicta to strengthen their grip on second place in the standings, but they remain eight points behind champions-elect Swindon.
First-period goals from defenceman Callum Buglass and forward Glenn Billing put Phantoms on top in Gillingham.
They failed to make a five-minute powerplay - which followed the ejection of Dynamos man Arran Strawson for a high-sticking offence - count as they looked to stretch their advantage during a blank middle stanza.
The two sides then traded goals within 13 seconds of each other in the final session as Louis Colvin’s powerplay effort briefly gave Invicta hope before James White responded with a clincher for Phantoms.
“It was disappointing to drop a point to MK Thunder on Saturday,” admitted head coach Slava Koulikov. “We had to make up for that by the getting the win and we managed it.
“We were the number one team and were ahead virtually all game, and we responded straight away with the important third goal so quickly after Invicta got one back.
“There is no doubt that Swindon will be champions in my mind, but we want to keep winning games of hockey to build momentum and ensure we are in a position to take advantage if they do slip up.”
The club’s roster for the victory against Invicta featured 10 players from the Peterborough area who came through the club’s own development system.
Sixteen year-old talent Ross Clarke was handed a senior debut and the forward impressed Koulikov with his contribution.
Fellow youngsters Jack Escott, Jarvis Hunt, Taylor Romeo and Bradley Bowering have also caught the eye during the weekend – the latter picking up the man-of-the-match accolade last night.
“It was good to have so many homegrown players in the line-up,” added Koulikov. “And it has been great experience for the juniors to have more ice time this weekend.
“All the young guys work really hard and are determined to take the chances that come their way. The way they have all performed has been really positive.”
The city club’s focus is now on the opening leg of their NIHL South Cup final against Basingstoke as they travel to Hampshire this Thursday (February 28, 7.45pm).
Forwards Petr Stepanek and Corey McEwen are expected to be fit after missing both weekend games with injury problems.
Koulikov rested veteran Ales Padelek and netminder Jordan Marr on Saturday, but they both returned against Invicta when captain James Ferrara sat out.
Phantoms’ next league fixture is a Saturday (March 2) trip to Streatham (5.30pm) ahead of a home date against Invicta the following night (March 3, 5.30pm) at Planet Ice.
48.27 Colvin (PP) ass: Ancitis/Stedman.
13.42 Buglass ass: Susters/Billing
18.50 Billing ass: R. Ferrara/Padelek
48.40 White ass: Weldon/Pollard
INVICTA – Louis Colvin
PHANTOMS – Bradley Bowering