This weeks match report comes courtesy of Phil Smith’s excellent “Beyond The Blue Line” blog.
This was a match with plenty of penalty minutes (20 for Sheffield and 24 for the Phantoms), and though things threatened to boil over during the match, they didn’t until after the final buzzer, when an incident between Phantoms’ skipper James Ferrara and a couple of Sheffield players in the hand shake line up saw players from both sides unhappy with each other and a fair amount of pushing and shoving.
The Phantoms returned from Sheffield with a resolute come-from-behind away win, a Darius Pliskauskas hat trick including an empty net goal, and two picture book goals from Milan Baranyk and Tom Norton.
The Phantoms may have thought they were favourites for this one given their recent form and league position but it would be the Steeldogs who made the more positive start.
An early flashpoint involved the Dogs’ Elliott and Pattison, and Phantoms’ Greg Pick. Elliott and Auzins bumped behind the goal and Pick came to his net minder’s support, shepherding Elliott back to centre ice, with the two players jawing at each other. Moments later Elliott left the ice, replaced by Pattison who immediately locked horns with Pick in a duel that looked pretty even, but which saw the Sheffield man pick up 2+2+10 for fighting, whilst Pick got 2+2 for the same offence.
The Sheffield side dominated the early exchanges and took a lead with almost nine minutes of the game gone, as Haywood converted a Lubo Korhon cross from the left, leaving Auzins with little chance as he crashed the net with speed.
There would be no further scoring in the first twenty minutes but there was still time for Robson, McGiffin and James Ferrara to pick up penalties which were all killed by what must be one of the best penalty kill units in the league.
The Steeldogs started the second period as they had the first; they dominated play, pinned the Phantoms in their own zone, and extended their lead 1 32 into the second stanza as Korhon swept in a one-timer from a Bosas pass.
The Dogs’ second strike sparked the Phantoms into life, Milan Baranyk pulling a goal back some 40 odd seconds after Korhon’s goal, with a wrap round effort, and a Tom Norton boomer from the blue line eliminated the deficit completely on 25 28, seven seconds into a powerplay when Bosas was called for interference.
If Sheffield side had the better of the first period, the Phantoms had the better of the second, though the Dogs went ahead on 29 45 through Bosas, only for man of the moment Darius Pliskauskas to look to shoot across Sedlar and fire over his blocker to tie the scores at three on 37 16, and two minutes later Ales Padelek tipped a Cam McGiffin shot to give the Phantoms the lead once more.
The Phantoms had come back from two down to lead after forty minutes, and had converted four of twelve shots which is no mean feat, but could’ve been further ahead given the chances carved out, and if the iron work hadn’t denied Lloyd Gibson when he was clear through on his own against the Sheffield net minder.
The Phantoms gave up another goal with 51 09 on the clock as Squires levelled, somewhat against the run of play, but Pliskauskas scored the game winning goal on 56 32 with a shot from the blue line as the Dogs’ Shudra sat out an interference call, and despite pulling Sedlar with a minute to go it would be Pliskauskas who would conclude the scoring with an empty net effort with a second of the game remaining.
MoM: Baranyk (Phantoms) & Squires (Sheffield)