The signs of progress for the Peterborough Phantoms continue to be seen, as the team followed up their win in Bracknell on the 4th January with a sterling effort against one of the EPL’s big-boys.
The bottom of the EPL has concertinaed over the past week or two, with several teams, including the Phantoms, showing some good form. Six points separate the bottom six teams; the Phantoms are a couple of points from a play-off place (though have played a couple of games more than Slough and Swindon).
The Phantoms have won three, drawn one and lost one of their last five games, with only Telford of the bottom six showing better form (winning 4 out of their last 5). Though many observers predict that the Bracknell Bees may be one of the teams that the Phantoms need to overhaul, the truth is that they have won three of their last five too, including a couple of wins this weekend; much needed for the Berkshire side after their poor showing in the Hive against Peterborough last Saturday.
A review of the weekend …
Phantoms’ fans had the opportunity to welcome back Jason Buckman and Nathan Pollard, both recently released by the London Raiders due to financial constraints. Pollard has been on a two-way deal, and has had a little ice time with the Phantoms this year; Buckman has most recently had five seasons with the London/Romford Raiders, but notched up over 150 games for the Phantoms between 2002 and 2008, following over 80 appearances for the Pirates in the four seasons prior to that.
Once again, Damien King retained the netminder position, with the fourth import slot being filled by Jozef Sladok.
This weekend’s double-header against the Guildford Flames was always going to give the Phantoms a real challenge; the Flames went into the weekend in second place and finished as top dogs in the league, though the truth is that the Phantoms deserve a great deal of praise for a 6-3 win at the Spectrum on Saturday, and for coming back from a two goal deficit to get a 2-2 draw after three periods.
The OT curse returned to haunt the Phantoms as they racked up another OT/PSO defeat. Despite the fact that Erik Piatak notched the Phantoms’ second penalty shot, Pliskauskas and Luke Ferrara both saw their shots saved, whilst at the other end, David Longstaff, and a returning Nicky Watt scored their penalty shots with consummate ease.
The game on Sunday started badly for the Phantoms, with Greg Pick taking a ‘delay of game’ penalty after six seconds, and the Flames scoring on the resulting powerplay. This would be a recurring theme throughout the game; all four goals scored on the evening were powerplay goals. The Flames looked fast and strong in the opening ten minutes; the Phantoms were going to need to dig deep to get something from a team smarting from a comprehensive defeat the night before. After the half-way point in the first the game got feisty; James Ferrara clashed with one of the Flames at a line change and the Phantoms’ goal tender King was fouled by Kohut, who in turn was flattened by Pick.
In second period started like a boxing match, with the two sides testing each other out, though Hadfield made a great stop from Piatak on a rebound, when the goal appeared to be gaping. Following what looked a harsh boarding penalty called on Sladok, Nicky Watt (who else?) put the Surrey team two goals up. The home side upped the pressure in the last five minutes and got their just rewards when James Ferrara swept the puck home at the near post.
The third period saw the Phantoms meet a strong Guildford rearguard, and with the clock ticking down it looked as though there would be no home joy. A combination of sterling net minding, desperate defence, and the width of the pipes kept the Phantoms out, until Darius Pliskauskas scored his second of the weekend, booming in a strike from the blue line.
Though ex-Phantom Ricky Skene took a couple of penalties for the Flames late on, the Phantoms couldn’t find the winning strike, and it was the other Phantoms’ old boy, Nicky Watt who despatched the winning penalty shot.
So, the Phantoms achieved a three point weekend, against the perennial champions-elect. Good work from Slava and the boys to continue their encouraging run of form, and to ensure that the team isn’t cut adrift at the bottom of the EPL.
Koulikov himself was MoM on Sunday evening, and he did, indeed perform well, though my nomination might’ve gone to James Ferrara.
If only the Phantoms had turned some of those OT defeats into wins, we’d be looking at a healthier league table!
Come on you Phantoms!
The Peterborough Phantoms can be found online at http://www.peterboroughphantoms.com/
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Member since: 29th October 2013
I'm an avid Peterborough Phantoms fan, bringing you news and reports from our local ice-hockey club