MATCH REPORT: Phantoms scalp champions again
Peterborough Phantoms claimed the scalp of reigning English Premier League champions Basingstoke for the second successive match last night (September 24).
Marc Levers provided the decisive strike as the city men triumphed 4-3 following a penalty shoot-out that went to sudden death with netminder Janis Auzins keeping out three of the four Basingstoke efforts he faced.
Phantoms had earlier seen a two-goal cushion wiped out in the final period, but they stood strong to claim their first away point of the season at the end of regulation time.
And following a blank overtime and a shoot-out triumph, it quickly became an opening road win of 2016/17 to follow up a fine home success over the same opponents last Sunday (September 18).
Coach Slava Koulikov said: “It is never an easy game in Basingstoke so it’s always a good feeling to come away with a win.
“We managed to get a couple of good results down there last season and it is great to have now picked up our first away win of this season.
“We were a lot more in control of the game last Sunday at home than we were in Basingstoke last night, but that is to be expected when playing in the building of the reigning champions.
“We could easily have collapsed after giving away a two-goal lead, but we kept it together, got through overtime and then won the game on penalties.
“It was one of those occasions where the result was more important than the performance which earned it and we’re just going to enjoy it.”
Incredibly the shoot-out was interrupted by a punch-up as Phantoms giant Petr Stepanek traded blows with Bison man Ciaran Long.
Both players received game penalties for their parts in a skirmish triggered when Stepanek collided with Bison netminder Tomas Hiadlovsky after seeing his penalty saved.
Darius Pliskauskas was also denied by Hiadlovsky after Ales Padelek had put away Phantoms’ first effort and it was a similar story at the other end where Janis Auzins denied Long and Ivan Antonov after being beaten by Petr Polodna.
Levers then struck with Phantoms’ first sudden-death effort and that proved to be decisive as Auzins denied Aaron Connolly.
“Petr was convinced the puck went in and ended up colliding with the goalie,” added Koulikov.
“It was not really necessary from either team’s point of view, but then again Basingstoke felt they had to defend their goalie and Petr obviously had to defend himself.”
Stepanek’s scrap completed an action-packed night in which he also created two of the Phantoms goals and scored the other.
He laid on the opener for Martin Susters after just 85 seconds and also assisted when Will Weldon doubled their advantage later in the first period with an effort that went in off the back of Hiadlovsky.
The teams then traded powerplay strikes just after the mid-point of the contest as Rene Jarolin halved Basingstoke’s arrears only for Stepanek to restore the two-goal cushion, but the hosts came roaring back in the final period.
Ivan Antonov cut the deficit again before Tomas Karpov levelled, but it was Phantoms who eventually prevailed to give themselves hope of a first four-point weekend of the season.
To achieve that, they’ll have to succeed tonight (September 25) where all other teams have failed so far this season in overcoming unbeaten leaders Milton Keynes at Planet Ice (5.30pm).
31:37 Jarolin (PP) ass: Balmer/Long
41:26 Antonov ass: Balmer/Karpov
53:48 Karpov ass: Antonov
1:25 Susters ass: Stepanek/Weldon
15:46 Weldon ass: Stepanek
33:10 Stepanek ass: Levers/J. Ferrara
Basingstoke – Tomas Karpov
Phantoms – Will Weldon