Patched-up Peterborough Phantoms experience a mixture of gain and pain in a tough weekend
There was a mixture of gain and pain for Peterborough Phantoms over the weekend (December 21/22).
The injury-ravaged city team collected two more valuable NIHL National Division points when seeing off Bracknell 5-1 at Planet Ice on Saturday before falling to a 6-2 defeat at Raiders last night (Sunday).
The triumph against the Bees marked the halfway point of the regular season, but also came at a high cost with Martins Susters added to their lengthy injury list after being on the receiving end of an ugly slash which led to visiting defenceman Brendan Baird being thrown out in the second period.
Bracknell are making a worrying habit of targeting Phantoms’ gifted forward with Baird’s brother, Joe, being hit with a suspension following another slashing incident when the Bees triumphed in their previous visit to Bretton last month.
Susters made the breakthrough for Phantoms with the only goal of the opening session which was cancelled out by Bees import Dominik Gabaj on a powerplay only 20 seconds into the middle stanza.
But Phantoms’ special teams then fired them back into the driving seat with an Ales Padelek blast – which arrived towards the end of the five-minute powerplay that followed the ejection of Baird - being added to by a Nathan Pollard effort in another numerical advantage.
A quickfire Phantoms double then put the result beyond doubt in the final session as Padelek’s second powerplay strike was followed 23 seconds later by a Susters clincher.
“It was almost a perfect performance considering we are so short-staffed,” said Koulikov.
“We made a commitment before the game that we would play hard, physical hockey.
“Credit goes to the guys for understanding and delivering that at a time when we have so many players out and others strapping on the skates despite being unwell.
“It’s always a concern to play against Bracknell because of the way they can cause injuries by playing dirty and we saw that again with what happened to Martins.
“But we just have to get on with it and we did that through thick and thin to get the two points.”
Susters’ was left nursing a wrist injury that forced him to sit out last night’s loss on the road to Raiders.
Phantoms missed out on a full set of victories in Romford this season despite a battling display from their depleted roster.
They were undone by two powerplay goals in less than a minute late in the opening period from Jake Sylvester and Erik Piatak.
Captain Aaron Connolly added a third goal for Raiders in the second session before Phantoms clawed their way back into contention thanks to powerplay strikes from Padelek and Corey McEwen.
But completing the comeback proved to be to big a challenge for Koulikov’s depleted side as Raiders regained the initiative in the closing period.
Sylvester’s second goal stretched their advantage before Brandon Ayliffe got in on the act. Blahoslav Novak completed the scoring with a short-handed effort.
Koulikov added: “It was a good battle and we didn’t give up at 3-0 down. We made a real game of it and did all we could, but Raiders had that little bit extra in the final period.
“It was always going to be a tough ask with so many guys missing, but two wins out of three in Romford is a good effort as they are a strong and aggressive team on their own ice.”
Phantoms bring the curtain down on a memorable 2019 this weekend. They face a Saturday trip to resurgent rivals Milton Keynes (December, 28) before hosting Basingstoke the following night (5.30pm).
SUNDAY MATCH DETAILS
17.42 Sylvester (PP) ass: Piatak/Ayliffe
18.33 Piatak (PP) ass: Ayliffe
25.14 Conniolly ass: Piatak
42.38 Sylvester ass: Baldock/Pitchley
53.11 Ayliffe ass: Scott
56.46 Novak (SH) ass: Sladkovsky
33.46 Padelek (PP) ass: J. Ferrara/Norton
39.50 McEwen (PP) ass: J. Ferrara/Norton
RAIDERS – Jake Sylvester
PHANTOMS – Tom Norton
SATURDAY MATCH DETAILS
13.59 Susters ass: N. Pollard/C. Pollard
30.16 Padelek (PP) ass: J. Ferrara
33.59 N. Pollard (PP) ass: Buglass
47.32 Padelek (PP) ass: Susters/Norton
7.55 Susters ass: McEwen
20.20 Gabaj (PP) ass: Robertson/Z. Milton
PHANTOMS – Jordan Marr
BRACKNELL – Adam Goss