Two Peterborough Phantoms players were handed match penalties and face suspensions after a major scuffle during their English Premier League opener last night.

Player-coach Slava Koulikov blasted the standard of officiating after fists flew in a third-period flashpoint during the city side’s 6-4 loss at reigning play-off champions Basingstoke.

Netminder Janis Auzins, making his competitive debut for the club, and defenceman Greg Pick both received match penalties for fighting while the same punishment was dished out to Basingstoke men Joe Greener and Matt Selby. Another Bison player, Ciaran Long, also got a game penalty for leaving the bench.

The situation had been sparked by a home player taking a shot after the whistle had been blown. The teams were ordered to return to their locker rooms for around 10 minutes to restore calm and allow the various penalties to be called.

Koulikov said: “It is the sort of thing that could have been prevented, but the refereeing was very poor in my opinion. I think it was the worst I’ve seen.

“We saw last season when we led 3-0 in a game in Basingstoke that they do not like being behind. They start to play more aggressively and were causing trouble in front of Janis.

“We mentioned to the referee on several occasions that our netminder needed protecting, but he let it slip.

“I will be having conversations with the league and we will wait to see what happens.”

Phantoms had earlier hit the front through Edgars Bebris, but a Greener hat-trick left them trailing.

Further Basingstoke goals from imports Tomas Karpov and Miroslav Vantroba left Phantoms 5-1 down but a hat-trick from Milan Baranyk in the final session hauled them back into contention.

His first goal arrived ahead of the scuffling and he then completed his treble with two quickfire powerplay strikes little more than half-a-minute apart after the action had resumed.

Phantoms pulled replacement netminder Sam James late on, but couldn’t find another way through.

Koulikov added: “We competed well for 60 minutes and did not let our heads go down when we were behind.”

Report courtesy of the Peterborough Evening Telegraph