The DALROD sponsored Peterborough Phantoms traveled to iceSheffield on Saturday evening to face the Steeldogs in their opening post-Christmas clash.
The game started well for the Phantoms when they found the back of the net after just 24 seconds, thanks to Milan Baranyk to silence the home crowd.
The Phantoms held the lead until the 6th minute when Ashley Calvert fired the Steeldogs leveled with a shot through traffic, much against the run of play.
A minute later and the Steeldogs lost influential Player-Coach Andre Payette after a clash with former Steeldog Edgars Bebris was adjudged a 5+Game penalty for Drawing Blood on a High Sticks call.
Phantoms tried to use the loss of Payette to their advantage, but were lucky to remain level atthe first break after a number of penalties saw them facing a lot of penalty-kill time.
In true Phantoms v Steeldogs tradition, things became a bit heated and the final minutes of the opening period saw both teams standing up for themselves. With three minutes left Lloyd Gibson went straight through Auzins following a challenge from Cam McGiffin, and then with 90 seconds left Sheffield had a goal washed out amid the confusion of the possibility that the puck had gone through the side netting.
With just 48 seconds left of the period Mason Webster and Steeldogs Callum Pattison dropped the gloves, with the Phantoms youngster coming out on top.
The second period started with the Steeldogs looking the stronger and after 2 minutes Lloyd Gibson found a way past Auzins to give the Steeldogs the lead for the first time in the game. Phantoms netminder Janis Auzins then pulled off a number of acrobatic saves to deny the Steeldogs from the face-off as the Steeldogs looked to extend their lead even further.
Martins Susters and Milan Baranyk both came close for the Phantoms, but found another netminder at the top of his game in Sheffield’s Dalibor Sedlar.
Just past the half hour mark Ashley Calvert broke down the wing and found Lloyd Gibson whose shot gave Auzins no chance and the Steeldogs had a 3-1 lead.
Whilst the Steeldogs were still celebrating their goal the Phantoms went up the other end of the ice and made it a 3-2 game. Some good play from Luke and James Ferrara setup Milan Baranyk to tie Sedlar in knots before cooly slotting the puck home.
The final period started with the Phantoms looking to grab an early equaliser. They came close with first Darius Pliskauskas and then Jason Buckman both ringing the Steeldogs pipework.
In the 44th minute Auzins failed to hold onto former Phantom Steve Duncombe’s shot and Tom Squires was in the right place at the right time to fire in the rebound to make it 4-2.
It was soon 4-3 as Milan Baranyk found Luke Ferrara who gave Sedlar no chance on 46.48.
Steeldogs soaked up the Phantoms pressure in the final period, letting the Phantoms do all the work. As the clock ran down there was more drama as Phantoms Milan Baranyk was thrown out on a 5+Game for High Sticks (drawing blood). The high sticks drew the wrath of Tom Squires who also received a 2+2+10 penalty for Roughing on 56.24.
Janis Ozolins re-signed for the Steeldogs recently as the player they Steeldogs fans hope will save their season, and just 13 seconds from the face-off the Latvian showed why he is so deadly on the breakaway as he netted the Steeldogs 5th and final goal of the night.
Man of the Match awards went to Lee Haywood for the Steeldogs and James Ferrara for the Phantoms.