Regular readers will know that times have been tough for the City’s ice hockey team. Home form has dipped in recent weeks, with the phantoms struggling to reach 8th position in the 10 team league, which will guarantee a place in the end of season play-off quarter finals.
So a quiet week down at Planet Ice? No chance!
The big talking point of the week was, without any shadow of a doubt, the announcement that Jon Kynsaton was stepping down (or up), and resuming the Director of Hockey role that he held before becoming the Head Coach at the start of last season. No one will be more disappointed at the team’s league position than Kynaston and his team, but the truth of the matter is that the Phantoms are currently no better off in terms of league standings than they had been in the previous 2 seasons.
Of course, the rumour mill goes into overdrive, fuelled by poor form and uncertainty. A number of names were spreading round the rink on Sunday evening, most notably ex-Bracknell coach Gareth Cox (dismissed by the Berkshire outfit last Monday), Sunday evening’s visiting player-coach Slava Koulikov, Phantoms’ treble winning coach Colin Patterson, and the prospect of familiar faces, Tim Peacock and Steve Johnson stepping in to steady the ship. More than one person even mentioned Lee Elias’ (Phantoms’ ‘Game Operations and Content Manager’) name, though Lee denied any such link (as you might expect he would, whether there is any truth in it or not!).
By all accounts Koulikov is the favourite, though nothing was given away by the Brit-qualified Russian on Sunday evening. If he is to be the new man, it could be a return to the player coach arrangement last seen in Peterborough under Canadian D man, Allen. This may be no bad thing if he has staff that can run the bench; Koulikov has scored six times in addition to the 18 assists he has registered this season, so far.
We anticipate an announcement early next week and the sooner the new team step in, the better, as the next two visitors to Bretton are the formidable Guildford Flames and the Manchester Phoenix. League points are going to be hard to come by.
This group of Peterborough players has talent, and have produced some encouraging results, but the number of times that they have shone has been far too infrequent for a team who, at the start of the season, had designs on the top six.
The weekend started with some bad news; an injury to star defence-man Marcel Petran was to keep him out for both games. Popular import hockey player and erstwhile boxer, Josef Sladok took Petran’s place and indeed, has his own strengths. The warm reception that Sladok received on Sunday reflected the affection with which he is held by the home support. Nevertheless, Petran has been the stand-out import so far this season, and was sorely missed.
Saturday night saw the team beaten in a penalty shoot-out (1-0) after the Milton Keynes Lightning staged a third period comeback to level in regulation (4-4), and take the extra point. Naturally, this was disappointing for the Phantoms who led 4-1 after the first, though most supporters would’ve taken a point at the start of the weekend.
Sunday night saw the Phantoms trail 0-1 against the Slough Jets after the first period, and the goal that was washed out at the end of the period counted (clearly scored after the buzzer sounded), was compensated for by a Nicky Watt strike after 17 seconds of the second period. That was only a prelude to another second period collapse, leaving too much to do in the third. Poor passing and the familiar defensive frailties exposed a side shorn of confidence, and according to the coach, a team who haven’t worked sufficiently hard enough for 60 minutes again.
Another Watt goal with just over six minutes gave a fleeting glimmer of hope before the Jets extended their lead some 40 seconds later. Just at the point when the Phantoms could’ve geared up for a big push in the last five minutes, the wind was taken out of their sails another time.
By the final buzzer, the Jets were 5-3 winners.
Nicky Watt was the Phantoms’ Man of the Match, which was much deserved, following a hard working performance that yielded a couple of goals. Frantisek Zubek pushed Watt for the MoM accolade. He skated hard throughout, and is fast becoming a fans’ favourite. Soar and Harley got more ice-time in the absence of Hook and Balmer, who are both on GB U20 duty; Harley in particular showed a couple of nice touches.
The atmosphere within the rink was somewhat subdued, which is no great surprise; there has been little to cheer at home in the last month, and the uncertainty caused by JK’s announcement on Friday led to an air of trepidation.
Hopefully, the new man will be ready to lead the charge up the table from next weekend. Tenth placed Telford are snapping at the Phantoms’ heels, and will be reaping the benefits of their big-bucks signings pretty soon. Fortunately, the league table is still bunched up at the bottom; eighth placed Swindon are three points ahead of the Phantoms, whereas seventh placed Sheffield are four points ahead.
There are plenty of points to play for, and a good run will see the team climb the table. We could all do with a W to raise spirits; let’s hope the new man can give us the kick start that Jon Kynaston is hoping that the new appointment will provide.
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