It has certainly been an awful long time coming, but at last, after playing 47 out of a 54 games season, the Peterborough Phantoms achieved their first 4 point weekend of the year.
And wasn’t it capped off with style?
A comprehensive 6 goal victory, and first shut-out of the season for goal tender Damien King against the 9th placed Slough Jets, sent the loyal supporters home pleased with the effort, commitment and integrity shown by their team.
Reaching the final, coveted, final play-off berth will still be a huge challenge; surely the odds are stacked against the City’s premier ice hockey club, yet this weekend’s performances indicated that there is plenty of fight in the team, and whether the Phantoms reach the end of season party or not, surely there will be some optimism about the future of the club?
The victory against Slough followed a critical win in Bracknell on Saturday night. Despite the fact that the Bees have fallen to the Phantoms in every match up between the 2 clubs this year, this victory showed the character in Coach Koulikov’s men as they scored 4 unanswered goals to win in the Beehive again.
After 30 minutes and 34 seconds of the game the Bees had extended their lead to a couple of goals.
At this point it would’ve been easy for the enormity of the impending challenge ahead – over half way through a game against play-off rivals, losing 2-0 and potentially 10 points off 8th place, to lead to the team effectively throwing in the towel. The play-off light was a mere pin-prick at the end of a pretty dark tunnel.
These are the times when people need to stand up and be counted, and in no uncertain terms this is what the Phantoms did, to earn a vital road win. Well done to the goal scorers, Soar, Ferrara (Luke), Piatak and Levers, and also to Man of the Match, Damien King.
Momentum with the Phantoms, then, going in to Sunday’s tie, and momentum with the Jets too, on a high after a penalty shoot-out win against the Guildford Flames on Saturday.
Like 2 heavy weight boxers testing each other out at the start of a title contest, the deadlock wasn’t to be broken early on.
The two teams at the foot of the EPL were scoreless after a first period where chances were traded initially, but which saw the Phantoms rack up 21 shots on goal compared to the Jets’ 5. The stats suggest the Phantoms dominated. The last time these 2 teams met, in Berkshire, they came up against a netminder in terrific form, ex-Cardiff Devil, Joe Myers. This time it was Croatian import, Andrej Vasiljevic, who single-handedly rebuffed the Phantoms’ efforts, making save after save. It should be noted that Vasiljevic was on the roster for a KHL team earlier in the season, and surely has a bright future ahead of him.
The second period continued in the same vein; plenty of Phantoms pressure, outshooting the Jets almost 3 to 1, and more top drawer net minding from Vasiljevic. With the scores still level at 0 the Phantoms conceded their first penalty, one of those infuriating bench penalties for too many men on the ice, with little over 5 minutes to go in the period.
Despite being a man down, the Phantoms scored their first short-handed goal since a Weldon tally in Bracknell at the start of January. Marcel Petran raced to the offensive blue line to receive a pass from Darius Pliskauskas and sent a tracer high into the net. A great strike at point where the team should’ve been vulnerable, though this, and other Jets’ powerplays were ineffective on the evening.
Nearly 36 minutes in to a tense game where no quarter was given, or taken, and the other guy blinked. At the end of the second period, the Phantoms led by 1.
What followed was a remarkable 3rd period in which the Phantoms scored the fastest 5 goal salvo in the EPL this year (9 minutes 39 seconds). After 4 minutes of the period the Phantoms went on a powerplay, but almost conceded short-handed themselves; Mindy Kieras missing the net in a one on one with Damien King following a rapid breakaway. Phantoms’ fans held their breath as Kieras swooped on the goal, cheering wildly as the puck shot wide of the target.
Less than 3 minutes later and the Phantoms were 3-0 up, with Will Weldon and Luke Ferrara goals separated by 13 seconds, and 4 minutes later saw Weldon score his second of the evening. Despite Vasiljevic’ stellar, Man of the Match performance, he was replaced by Myers at 4-0, though almost immediately Darius Pliskauskas had stretched the home side’s lead, finishing smartly, assisted by Piatak and Petran.
The scoring was rounded off by Luke Ferrara, some 4 minutes from the end of an incredible game; cat and mouse for the first 2 periods, and the Jets blown away in a period where the Phantoms’ intensity grew, chances were created, and most crucially, against 2 top, top goal tenders, were dispatched with skill.
Marcel Petran was the Phantoms’ MoM, and I would never want to take the award from someone who gives his all on every shift and who has been a game saver so many times. Nevertheless, I would’ve plumped for Damien King; a shut-out rarely sees anyone but the netminder pick up the end of game beers and Damo did everything required, making saves when the game could’ve gone either way. Tom Soar deserves a mention in dispatches too; given more ice time in Lewis Hook’s absence, Tom showed a greater physical presence than at any other point this year.
6 points off 8th place, a game in hand over Bracknell (though that’s a toughie against Manchester) and yet to play in Bracknell, where the Phantoms have won twice already.
They can still make the play-offs, can’t they?
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