The Peterborough Phantoms are a work in progress. Things have improved under Coach Koulikov, and this week provided more evidence, if it were needed, that there will continue to be plenty more highs and lows.
Despite the fact that the Phantoms’ form has picked up, there are always the doubters who think it is all too good to last, citing the heavy defeat in Wiltshire to the Swindon Wildcats on Saturday evening as perfect evidence.
Let’s face it – a 7-1 mauling on the road, and losing your top scorer with a 2 game suspension is hard enough to take. Throw in the long running Jarina saga (injured, not leaving, though social media was rife with the suggestion post the final buzzer), and you had a heady mix for Sunday’s home fixture against 2nd placed Basingstoke Bison.
The Phantoms have a good record at home against the Bison the year, winning one and taking a single point in the two previous games in Bretton. This third and final home fixture against the Hampshire side went to the Phantoms after a resolute performance that saw a single Levers powerplay goal from a Marcel Petran blue line boomer give the Phantoms a 1-0 first period lead. The Phantoms had marginally the better of the opening 20 minutes, with young prospect Lewis Hook troubling the Bison defence without adding to Levers’ tally.
Looking back at my notes from the second period show how feisty the game was. Levers scored a beauty after 23 minutes as the Phantoms came out looking to extend their lead, though the game exploded following a check to James Ferrara’s head by Michael Wales. Wales was never going to win any popularity contests in these parts following his years in Milton Keynes and Luke Ferrara was grateful for the extra space to score on the resulting powerplay.
The Phantoms struck again with 4 minutes to go in the second period following great work between Petran and Pliskauskas which enabled Marcel to score his second of the game.
Tempers were fraying – the two coaches, Sheppard and Koulikov were guilty of a bout of pushing and shoving and Joe Greener was called for tripping, though from the other end of the rink it looked more serious. Sadly for the Phantoms, the away side scored short-handed and on a delayed penalty, to go into the final period 3 goals behind.
The Bison had targeted Petran and Sladok for particularly close attention. Understandable, given the significance of the 2 import D men to the Phantoms’ line-up, and credit to them both for remaining relatively calm.
A Greener goal with 7 minutes to go, after experienced forward Nicky Chinn waltzed through centre ice sparked renewed effort from the Bison, and the last 5 minutes saw something of an onslaught on King’s goal. With 3 ½ minutes to the final buzzer, the Bison were all over King, which prompted high tempers yet again, and a further attempt to get Sladok to drop the gloves. Let’s not forget, the Phantoms were an import down and coming off the back of a poor result; losing an import to an unnecessary roughing call at this stage could’ve been critical.
At the death The Bison were called for a bench penalty and Petran scored his second and the Phantoms’ fifth to confirm the win.
Despite the win, the Phantoms remain bottom of the EPL, though the much coveted 8th spot is only 2 points away. Plenty to play for!
Danny Wood had an assured home debut, showing speed and great puck work, and Damien King (wearing Jarina’s mask!) was Man of the Match, though Petran, Sladok and Levers could both have felt that the accolade could’ve gone to them tonight.
Picking one star out of a great team performance is difficult; perhaps Koulikov himself should’ve got the MoM for orchestrating the win in difficult circumstances. The Phantoms are developing a more defensive aspect to their game, which we saw stifle the Bison, particularly in the opening period and lay the foundations for the win. Clearly, given the Swindon result, the Phantoms are going to have their off-nights, but the performance on Sunday stands testament to the character of the team, and most notably Damien King, who had received criticism the night before.
As for the Bison, on this occasion they didn’t seem to get out of second gear until the last 5 minutes, and appeared more ill-disciplined than I seem to remember them from earlier in the season; too many penalties taken, just at times when they hurt the most. Credit to the Phantoms for the victory, but the Bison didn’t do themselves any favours either.
Onto next weekend; Slough and Swindon. Time for a 4 point weekend, I think.
A quick well done to David Brightley and the rest of the Phanforce team. The supporters club’s launch night saw over 100 members sign up, with the prospect of many more in coming weeks. It is clear that the off-ice team at the Phantoms has done a good job this year raising the profile of the club in the City and amongst the hockey community at large, and the creation of the new supporters club, part of the #reborn initiative which has generated a great deal of interest in the team, will only serve to bring the supporters and the club closer together.
Phanforce members receive an exclusive badge, discounted travel to away games and a host of other benefits. If any readers would like to join the supporters club, membership fees are £10 adults and £5 children, with fees paid good for the remainder of the 2013-2014 season, and for the duration of the 2014-2015 season too.
See us at the Phanforce table in the Skate Hire to register!
Come on you Phantoms!
The Peterborough Phantoms can be found online at http://www.peterboroughphantoms.com/
You can also follow the club on Twitter at @GoPhantoms
If you have any comments or observations I’d love to hear from you. Find me on Twitter at @phil_smith66 and follow for regular Phantoms updates.
You can find other Phantoms related articles on 'beyond the blue line' at http://blueliner66.wordpress.com/
Member since: 29th October 2013
I'm an avid Peterborough Phantoms fan, bringing you news and reports from our local ice-hockey club