Head coach Slava Koulikov was determined to take positives despite seeing Peterborough Phantoms fall to a home defeat last night (November 3).
The city team were left pointless in front of their own fans for the first time this season after being beaten 5-3 by Basingstoke in an NIHL National Division clash at Planet Ice.
Koulikov’s men led once and twice battled back from behind before being undone by two late Bison goals in a topsy-turvy tussle.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we were the better team,” insisted Koulikov.
“But this is an unpredictable sport and we have been on the other side of situations like this many times in the past.
“The work-rate and commitment from the guys all weekend was the best I’ve seen so far this season. They competed and fought hard for the full 60 minutes on both nights.
“We were second-best to pucks and not winning our battles in the last couple of weeks, but they are things we addressed well.
“We were involved in two very tight games. We managed to win in Bracknell on Saturday but we couldn’t get the result at home against Basingstoke.
“It was one of those nights where we could have prevented one or two of the goals we conceded and should probably have scored a couple more as well.
“But overall there are a lot of positives to take from the weekend even though a couple of points slipped away.”
Petr Stepanek unleashed another of his trademark thunderbolts to fire Phantoms ahead in the opening session but they were reliant on a point-blank save from netminder Jordan Marr moments later to deny Bison import Marek Malinsky.
Only the pipes prevented Corey McEwen from doubling the lead but it was wiped out seconds later as Alex Sampford pounced at the other end to restore parity for Basingstoke.
And the visitors completed the turnaround with a controversial second goal which was allowed to stand despite George Norcliffe appearing to kick in the puck from inside the crease.
Phantoms quickly channelled their frustration to excellent effect as captain James Ferrara levelled inside a minute, but they again found themselves trailing as Bison youngster Bayley Harewood broke away following a giveaway to coolly beat Marr in a one-on-one situation.
Skipper Ferrara again pulled Phantoms level in the final session when tucking away his second goal of the evening at the second attempt.
And that was the cue for a dominant spell in which Ales Padelek hit a post and Callum Buglass fluffed a glorious chance from close in.
But a soft penalty picked up Buglass at the other end did prove decisive as that holding call led to a powerplay during which Basingstoke edged back ahead as an Adam Jones shot got past an unsighted Marr.
Phantoms attempted to respond on a powerplay of their own and pulled netminder Marr with more than a minute left on the clock to create a six-on-four situation, but it proved to be a fatal move as Bison player-coach Ashley Tait found the gaping net with precision from deep inside his own zone to seal the visitors’ success.
Phantoms face a tough trip to table-toppers Swindon on Saturday (November 9) before Raiders make their first visit of the season to Bretton on Sunday (November 10).
Koulikov described defenceman Scott Robson as a ‘long-term’ casualty after he suffered a knee ligament injury in Bracknell.
Young forward Jarvis Hunt is still out with a shoulder problem while Will Weldon is unavailable for three games starting with the home date against Raiders.
8.12 Stepanek ass: Susters/Bowering
27.20 J. Ferrara ass: Padelek/Billing
45.50 J. Ferrara ass: Billing
15.20 Sampford ass: Talbot
26.30 Norclifffe ass: Talbot/Sampford
38.06 Harewood ass: Malinsky/King
55.58 Jones (PP) ass: Harding/Malinsky
58.53 Tait (ENG) unassisted
PHANTOMS – James Ferrara
BASINGSTOKE – Samuel Talbot