MATCH REPORT: Darius delivers as Phantoms hit Hull hard
All of Peterborough Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov's wishes came true on a scintillating Saturday night at Planet Ice.
Koulikov cut a delighted figure after seeing his low-scoring side rack up their biggest haul of the English Premier League season when slamming high-flying Hull – the second tier’s most prolific team - 8-3 last night (October 22).
And the triumph was made all the more satisfying as half of the goals were provided by under-fire import star Darius Pliskauskas.
The Lithuanian international frontman endured a barren start to the new campaign to leave some supporters questioning his future, but he responded with a vintage display.
Koulikov was also thrilled to see three of his team’s goals arrive from a previously mis-firing powerplay unit with Pliskauskas striking twice during numerical advantages and Ales Padelek finding the net in similar circumstances.
And there was also a milestone moment to finish as captain James Ferrara completed the Phantoms’ scoring by bringing up a century of goals for his home city club.
The 28 year-old has been a wonderful servant to Phantoms for almost a decade although his 100th strike won’t go down as one of his most spectacular as a hopeful shot from the blue line flummoxed replacement Hull netminder Ashley Smith.
Koulikov said: “Every single one of my guys deserves a lot of credit for a great performance and result.
“It was a really tight and tough game for the first two periods with Hull playing very aggressively, but we were able to really take control in the third period when the last five of our goals arrived.
“I have spoken many times this season about the need to score more goals as a team so I’m very pleased with our return and also delighted for Darius to hit four of them.
“He has had a lot of critics so far this season, but he has always handled himself well and I was in doubt that he would get among the goals again.
“He has five in two games now. That’s good for him and good for the team.”
It was another import, Petr Stepanek, who struck the first blow last night when breaking the deadlock with a vicious blast. Pliskauskas’ first goal, which arrived on a powerplay courtesy of a smart James Ferrara pass, doubled the advantage.
Hull halved their arrears when Nathan Salem prodded in a Stan Lascek pass at the back post and only the brilliance of Phantoms netminder Janis Auzins prevented the visiting goalscorer from levelling moments later.
Phantoms restored their two-goal cushion when Pliskauskas buried a Padelek pass just past the mid-point of the match and the exploits of both goaltenders ensured there was no further additions to the scoreline in the remainder of the middle session.
Auzins expertly kept out Lascek and Jason Hewitt while Hull man Jordan Marr did superbly to deny James Archer and Stepanek at the other end.
But the Pirates netminder was powerless to prevent Phantoms from sealing victory in the final period with a pair of powerplay efforts.
Padelek gave a fine Stepanek pass the finish it deserved little more than 90 seconds after the restart and Pliskauskas then completed his hat-trick after being picked out by Marc Levers.
Hull gave Marr the rest of the night off but young replacement Smith was beaten twice in the space of 11 seconds. Martins Susters got the better of him in a one-on-one situation before a Pliskauskas shot crept through his body.
Player-coach Dominic Osman hit back for Hull as back-up Phantoms netminder Adam Long conceded barely half-a-minute after being sent on to replace Auzins.
Ferrara’s 100th goal for Phantoms continued a frantic period which came complete with seven goals, the last of which was provided by Hull man Ryan Watt with just under five minutes to go.
Phantoms can complete a first four-point weekend of the season by causing a shock away at table-topping Telford tonight (6pm).
6:25 Stepanek ass: Weldon/Archer
10:13 Pliskauskas (PP) ass: J. Ferrara/Norton
31:20 Pliskauskas ass: Padelek/Norton
41:36 Padelek (PP) ass: Stepanek/Robson
47:51 Pliskauskas (PP) ass: Levers/Padelek
51:21 Susters unassisted
51:32 Pliskauskas ass: White/Levers
54:41 J.Ferrara ass: Stepanek
25:26 Salem ass: Lascek
52:10 Osman ass: Lascek
55:20 Watt ass: Sarsok/Gent
PHANTOMS – Darius Pliskauskas
HULL – Jaroslav Sarsok