Peterborough Phantoms enjoy a superb finish to the decade
Two big games and four precious points . . . now that’s not a bad way to see out a decade!
Peterborough Phantoms’ final weekend of the 2010s proved to be a memorable one as they backed up a thrilling derby triumph with a gritty home success in the NIHL National Division.
Slava Koulikov’s men continued their dominance against Milton Keynes on Saturday (December 28) when Callum Buglass’ overtime decider earned a 7-6 verdict on the road and completed a hat-trick of wins against their big rivals so far this term. It was a fittingly dramatic finish to a game laden with excitement.
Bradley Bowering’s early powerplay strike gave Phantoms an advantage quickly wiped out by Liam Stewart. Ales Padelek then pounced on an MK giveaway to put the visitors back ahead before the end of the opening session but Lightning again hit back as Russ Cowley struck in the second period.
Phantoms were back in front when Corey McEwen tipped in a Robbie Ferrara shot before Padelek struck again in the final minute of the period.
Those two goals sandwiched a series of fine saves from Jordan Marr, but the netminder was powerless to prevent Lightning clawing their way level in the final session.
Cale Tanaka’s powerplay strike was followed by a Leigh Jamieson equaliser but the deadlock lasted just 61 seconds as Martins Susters responded with a fifth Phantoms goal.
A ding-dong tussle continued with former Phantoms man Jamieson levelling again before captain James Ferrara put the city men back in the ascendancy with a glorious solo effort.
But it was MK who completed the scoring in regulation time when James Griffin clawed them back onto level terms and ensured the sides collected a point apiece.
The hosts were then dominant for much of overtime with Marr excelling before Buglass brilliantly earned Phantoms glory by surging the length of the ice and slotting the puck past netminder Dean Skinns.
Head coach Koulikov said: “It was an unbelievable game from almost every perspective.
“There was a full building and an electric atmosphere, and the fans were treated to a lot of entertainment.
“To win the game in the way we did in overtime was really nice and we’re happy to come away with the two points.”
And that was followed by a battling 5-2 win against Basingstoke at Planet Ice last night (December 29).
It initially looked like that huge high could be followed by a decade-ending low as Phantoms took time to warm to their task.
Alex Sampford made the only breakthrough of a scrappy opening session with a powerplay goal to give Bison the edge but Phantoms upped the ante in the middle period.
The poor discipline of Basingstoke certainly helped them turn the tide as well as Stepanek levelled just as one powerplay finished before player-coach Tom Norton fired Phantoms ahead in a five-on-three situation.
They saw their lead disappear as Sam Talbot struck for Basingstoke in the final session, but that proved to be only a brief hiccup.
McEwen soon restored an advantage that was extended when Padelek was left with the freedom of Bretton to pick his spot and notch his third goal of the weekend.
And the icing was applied to the cake in the closing minute when a bloodied and battered Will Weldon forced an error and slotted into the empty net with Bison netminder Alex Mettam having been sacrificed in favour of an extra skater.
Koulikov added: “We knew it would be a tough night because Basingstoke work so hard and are always so gritty.
“We didn’t do the simple things well enough for big parts of the game and that is why we found ourselves behind for a while.
“But we added intensity and tempo as the night went on with young guys like Ross Clarke and Jarvis Hunt really setting the example just as they had done in MK as well.
“People might see the 5-2 scoreline and think it was an easy game, but that definitely wasn’t the case. We really had to fight for the win.
“A four-point weekend is a great way to end the year.”
Phantoms finish 2019 in third place in the standings . . . and they don’t have long to wait for their first outing of 2020.
Koulikov’s will attempt to complete a clean sweep of four victories against fierce rivals Milton Keynes in a New Year’s Day showdown at Planet Ice (5.30pm).
That’s the first of 11 games during a demanding January which also features eight further league outings and both legs of their NIHL National Cup semi-final against Hull - although the dates for those knockout clashes are yet to be finalised.
SATURDAY MATCH DETAILS
9.19 Stewart ass: Kovar
27.31 Cowley ass: Jamieson/Kana
41.16 Tanaka (PP) ass: Kovar/Ferguson
44.37 Jamieson ass: Tanaka/Green
52.20 Jamieson ass: Stewart/Kovar
57.45 Griffin ass: S. Russell/Tanaka
6.46 Bowering (PP) ass: McEwen/Buglass
15.44 Padelek unassisted
31.13 McEwen ass: R. Ferrara/Stepanek
39.33 Padelek ass: Norton/N. Pollard
45.38 Susters ass: Stepanek/Long
56.19 J. Ferrara ass: Weldon/Padelek
64.40 Buglass ass: J. Ferrara
MILTON KEYNES – Leigh Jamieson
PHANTOMS – Jordan Marr
SUNDAY MATCH DETAILS
34.36 Stepanek ass: McEwen/C. Pollard
36.35 Norton (PP) ass: J. Ferrara/Padelek
48.47 McEwen (PP) ass: Susters/Hunt
51.14 Padelek ass: O’Flaherty
59.32 Weldon (EN) unassisted
13.22 Sampford (PP) ass: Norris/Klejna
45.19 Talbot ass: Klejna/Smith
PHANTOMS – Josh Tetlow
BASINGSTOKE – Alex Mettam