Peterborough Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov was left with a sporting dilemma after two impressive runs were brought to a halt last night (October 20).
The city side’s four-game winning streak and 100 per cent home record were both ended as they suffered a 5-4 defeat at the hands of Telford in an NIHL National Division clash at Planet Ice.
They were eventually pipped after a lengthy exchange of penalty shots at the end of a pulsating contest, but was it a case of a point being gained or one being thrown away?
Given Phantoms were two goals adrift with less than six minutes of regulation remaining, it was almost certainly a case of the former.
Although, despite such a fine show of character and resolve, Koulikov was far from enamoured by the display of his team.
“A coach should probably never be happy with just one point at home, but I think it is a huge result given the way the game panned out,” admitted Koulikov.
“Did we play well? Not in the slightest and the guys know that, but they produced a massive effort to come back from 4-2 down in the final period to get level.
“It is always a lottery when it comes down to penalty shots. Of course you need skill, but it took 12 attempts for it to be settled.
“So all in all I have mixed feelings. Yes, it’s probably a good point against a very good Telford team with only one loss this season, but there is also no doubt that we could have done better.
“Overall we have to be happy with our start to the season. We’ve picked up nine points from the last 10 available so we’re in a good position with things still to work on – the biggest one being that the guys have to keep themselves out of the penalty box.”
Six of the eight goals (three for each team) arrived in powerplay situations.
Andrew McKinney’s opener and Petr Stepanek’s leveller were two such examples with Phantoms then hitting the front with eight seconds left on the clock in the opening period as Glenn Billing fired through traffic.
Their advantage remained intact until a giveaway was punished by impressive Tigers import Dominik Florian late in the second session.
Phantoms then endured a nightmare start to the final session with Telford hitting the front inside a minute as Finley Howells pounced on a powerplay.
And the hosts saw the deficit double when Florian made the most of another numerical situation with little more than nine minutes to go.
But the visitors were then let down by indiscipline as Ales Padelek halved the arrears with a five-on-three strike before player-coach Tom Norton blasted in on another powerplay to level.
Neither side could find another breakthrough and it was a similar story in overtime where Phantoms superbly killed off a penalty after Will Weldon was called for tripping – a decision which drew a furious reaction from the forward. Telford man Scott McKenzie tucked away his side’s opening penalty with that effort cancelled out by Padelek with Phantoms’ third attempt after Martins Susters and Stepanek had both missed.
Florian and Brandon Whistle were both denied by Phantoms netminder Jordan Marr as the shoot-out went into sudden-death.
Susters, Padelek and Stepanek all fluffed their lines for Phantoms with McKenzie and Florian doing likewise, but McKenzie eventually settled the contest in the visitors’ favour.
Phantoms face home and away dates against Hull this weekend. The two sides meet at Planet Ice on Saturday (October 26, 7pm) ahead of a return on Humberside the following night (5.30pm).
10.00 Stepanek unassisted
19.52 Billing ass: J. Ferrara/R. Ferrara
54.23 Padelek (PP) ass: Weldon/Billing
57.05 Norton (PP) ass: J. Ferrara/Padelek
7.05 McKinney (PP) ass: Weaver/McKenzie
36.01 Florian ass: Goodison
40.49 Howells (PP) ass: Florian/Goodison
50.57 Florian (PP) ass: Howells/Watkins
PHANTOMS – Jordan Marr
TELFORD – Brad Day