Peterborough Phantoms head coach Slava Koulikov backed his players to hit top form following a hard-fought home success.
The city team saw off newly-formed Leeds Chiefs 4-2 in a first-ever clash between the sides last night (October 6) to continue what is fast becoming a familiar weekend pattern.
The victory at Planet Ice extended Phantoms’ 100 per-cent record on home ice to three games in the inaugural NIHL National Division campaign with each of those triumphs having followed a Saturday road reverse.
But it certainly wasn’t one of their most memorable performances as powerplay goals from Glenn Billing, Conor Pollard and Martins Susters, along with an even-handed effort from Petr Stepanek, proved to be enough to see off the basement side.
“The points were more important than the performance after losing on the road again on Saturday,” said Koulikov.
“We were really decent at times but we are still looking for consistency in terms of producing the things we’re looking for as a team.
“It is clear that things are not quite clicking for us just yet and that we are struggling for goals, but spells like this happen in hockey.
“We believe in our players and we feel sure they will start firing, and they also have to believe in themselves.”
Billing’s well-worked powerplay opener was a rare moment of slick play on a night where the action was often scrappy.
One-time Phantoms man Richard Bentham replied for Leeds before the hosts regained the advantage in the final minute of the opening period as Pollard put away another powerplay goal.
Phantoms made the most of another numerical advantage when Susters fired in during a four-on-three situation just before the mid-point of the contest and Stepanek effectively sealed victory when getting in on the act.
The city side couldn’t add to their tally in the final session when the only goal went to Leeds as Adam Barnes rocketed a slap-shot past Ryan Bainborough during a powerplay.
Phantoms’ back-up netminder played the full game with first-choice Jordan Marr given a night off and he made a number of impressive saves including a terrific double-stop early in the second period.
“Ryan is a good goalie who deserves the chance to play games,” added Koulikov.
“We made the decision a few days ago that we would face Leeds and he did very well.”
Phantoms will attempt to collect their first away points of the season when they travel to early NIHL National Division pacesetters Sheffield this Saturday (October 12).
And that’s followed by a first derby date of the new campaign on Sunday (October 13) when Milton Keynes head to Planet Ice.
9.35 Billing (PP) ass: Weldon/Padelek
19.47 C. Pollard (PP) ass: Stepanek/Buglass
29.06 Susters (PP) ass: Weldon/Robson
35.56 Stepanek ass: Weldon/Susters
11.07 Bentham ass: Zajac/Kopstals
54.03 Barnes (PP) unassisted
PHANTOMS – Ryan Bainborough
LEEDS – Lewis Baldwin