Positive signs under the new coach, Slava Koulikov
16th December 2013
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As in politics, a week is a long time in sport.  The Phantoms hadn’t picked up a point at home since the overtime loss against Basingstoke on November 18th, and on Saturday were defeated by perennial strugglers, the Telford Tigers; a game in which they raced to a two goal lead, yet succumbed to the Shropshire side by five goals to two.

Coach Koulikov had seen his new charges exposed in the same way as his predecessor had done; the size of the challenge ahead clear.

Given that the Phantoms had been defeated on Saturday night, few of the home crowd would’ve taken their seats in expectation of the performance they saw on Sunday.  Nevertheless, the Peterborough fans turned up in great numbers, were vocal throughout, and eventually saw one of the best home performances this season.

Guildford rolled into town as top dogs in the EPL, with only 6 defeats (and 3 OT losses) in 28 games played; they were the EPL’s top scorers with 130 goals so far, at an average of 4.6 goals per game.  In contrast, the Phantoms are the league’s most porous team, shipping 119 goals in 26 games, at 4.5 goals per game.  Having lost to bottom (but soon to be upwardly mobile) club, Telford, on Saturday, surely the Phantoms would be put in their place by one of the league’s big boys?

The game was level at 1-1 after the first period, and 3-3 after the second.  The team competed well in the second, despite facing a 5 minute (+ match) penalty called on Piatak for a high stick call on Duggan that drew blood.  The Flames scored with 47 seconds of the penalty to go, but the Phantoms showed great heart and no little amount of skills, most notably when Marc Levers showed great hands to give the City side the lead late in the period.  Sublime skill from a quality player; hopefully we’ll see more of Levers in a Phantoms’ jersey after this season.  Longstaff equalised for the Flames for a 3rd time after the officials gave a disputed icing penalty; the much feared 2nd period collapse didn’t materialise.

In the third period the Flames put pressure on the Phantoms’ defence.  Despite the Phantoms killing yet another penalty, Longstaff scored another from a rebound, to give Guildford their first lead of the night.  With the clock ticking down and PP opportunities missed, the Phantoms pulled Murdy, and were rewarded with a hat trick goal from Marcel Petran, to level the score at 4-4.

The Phantoms haven’t had much luck in OT this year and this game was no exception.  Sladok was thrown in the box for a slash, and Longstaff capitalised on the Flames’ numerical advantage.  The manner of the Flames’ celebration of that winning goal suggested just how hard they had been pushed.

In short, Koulikov’s first game in charge on home ice showed greater passion and composure than we have seen in recent weeks.  Guildford may have been somewhat short-benched, but they are a quality outfit, and most Phantoms’ supporters would’ve taken a point before the start of the game.  It is testament to the performance that many left the rink disappointed not to take the extra point.

It was pleasing to see Koulikov coaching on the bench, and the way that his struggling side, skating short of its top scorer for most of the game, competed with the league leaders.

Man of the match was, predictably, Marcel Petran, his 3 booming goals from the blue line worthy of the accolade.  However, special mention should go to the home crowd.  This Phantoms side had lost 5 home games on the bounce before this fixture, and had only 1 win in the last 10.  Nevertheless, the fans turned up in their masses, filling the old barn.  The volume was turned up throughout, and despite being pegged back by a combination of Guildford’s resilience and some strange calls from the officials, the supporters got behind their team throughout. 

A great effort from supporters who haven’t had a great deal to cheer in the last month – just imagine what it will be like if the team starts to put a run together!

At the end of the game, the fans applauded both teams, recognising the efforts that had been exerted by both sets of players.  This is something I like to see; it may not be unique to ice hockey, but you certainly don’t get it with all sports, and I think our sport is better for it.

Bring on Manchester.

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/

About the Author

Phil Smith

Member since: 29th October 2013

I'm an avid Peterborough Phantoms fan, bringing you news and reports from our local ice-hockey club

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