Darius Pliskauskas grabbed a brace as the DALROD sponsored Peterborough Phantoms beat League and Cup Champions Telford Tigers 4-2 to progress to the EPL Playoff Final.
Backed superbly by Janis Auzins they led throughout the game and overcame the loss of Edgars Bebris with a resolute and brave performance.
Peterborough’s intentions were made clear in the opening stages – work hard and get in front of every puck – and it carried them through to the final. They made the best of those early moments and it was no surprise when they took the lead.
A scramble in front of goal saw the puck come out to EPL Coach of the Year Slava Koulikov, and he made no mistake in firing low past Tom Murdy.
Telford got back into it and tested Janis Auzins in the Phantoms’ net, but the netminder – unlucky not to have made the all-star team – was more than up to the task.
It was when Edgars Bebris was sent to the bin on 10.25, that the Tigers pounced with Max Birbraer tucking it away 49 seconds later thanks to Daniel Davies’ good work.
Peterborough killed a penalty on Captain James Ferrara for Holding the Stick on 15.12 and then took advantage of a powerplay opportunity of their own.
Jonathan Weaver was called 2+10 for Checking from Behind and Luke Ferrara gave his side a 2-1 lead right at the end of the opening period.
Telford were determined to start the second strong and after 20:42 were given a big chance. The lively Bebris was given 5+Game for High Sticks – but a Peter Szabo penalty negated most of the Tigers 5 minute advantage. In fact it was Murdy who was the busiest between the pipes.
Another bout of pushing and shoving on 26:19 saw Pliskauskas receive 2+2 for Roughing, alongside Telford’s Martin Ondrej who received 2 minutes.
The Phantoms had spent the majority of the second half on the back foot – but they extended the lead with a cooly taken Pliskauskas marker on 30:42.
Tigers needed to step up in the final period and they did when early in the period Rick Plant sent a howitzer into the top corner on 41.56.
Peterborough passed up a powerplay opportunity seven minutes into the third and then produced some desperate defending to keep Telford at bay.
That was the tale for the rest of the game with the Phantoms’ defence and Auzins in particular outstanding in the final few minutes.
Pliskauskas then sealed the deal with a superbly taken shot on 57.09 to send the large number of travelling Phantoms fans into wild celebrations.
Sam Zajac and Janis Auzins collected the Man of the Match awards for what has to be one of the best playoff games Coventry has seen over the past 10 seasons.
Telford: Birbraer 1+0; Davies 0+1; Plant 1+0; Weaver 0+1, McKenzie 0+1
Peterborough: Pliskauskas 2+1; L. Ferrara 1+1; Koulikov 1+0; Bebris 0+1; Weldon 0+1; J. Ferrara 0+1
Period Scoring: 1-2; 0-1; 1-1
PIMS: Telford: 20; Peterborough: 33
Shots: 14-13; 16-6; 10-8