The DALROD Peterborough Phantoms returned to the ice last weekend for the first of their Challenge games ahead of the new English Premier League Season.

The Phantoms were missing new signees James Archer and Petr Stepanek for the two games against the Sheffield Steeldogs. Archer and Stepanek were both completing their commitments to their current teams in Australia and New Zealand. Phantoms were also missing Will Weldon, but drafted in Mario Uhrik as Head Coach Slava Koulikov gave the Slovakian a trial with the Phantoms.

Saturdays game in Peterborough saw the sides play out a tense 3-3 draw, with both coaches using the game to try new line configurations to see who works well with who in a competitive environment.

Phantoms took the lead early in the opening period through a Marc Levers Powerplay goal, and it wasn’t until midway through the second that Andrew Hirst levelled for the visitors with another Powerplay marker.

With the scores level going into the final stanza, Steeldogs took the lead on 45 minutes with an Adrian Palak short handed goal, but just 2 minutes later Mario Uhrik netted the Phantoms second powerplay goal of the game to level it once more.

Sam Towner netted his first Phantoms goal on 50 minutes, but with under 4 minutes of the game remaining Thomas Relf made it a 3-3 game.

Sundays game in Sheffield saw the teams line-up the same as 24 hours earlier, but with Koulikov giving backup netminder Adam Long the start ahead of Janis Auzins.

A level opening 20 minutes saw Steeldogs strike first through Pavel Mrna, before Ales Padelek took the teams into the first break at 1-1.

Phantoms and Steeldogs traded goals in the middle period, as both teams looked to claim an advantage at iceSheffield. Martins Susters gave the Phantoms a 2-1 lead on 24 minutes, but 4 minutes later Thomas Relf levelled the game once more. Liam Kirk regained the lead for the Steeldogs on 31 minutes, but that lead lasted just 17 seconds before Owen Griffiths netted his first Phantoms goal.

Three quick goals at the start of the final period swung the advantage the Steeldogs was as Liam Kink, Ashley Calvert and Cole Shudra found a way past Adam Long in the Phantoms goal.

Late penalty trouble for the homeside nearly cost them dearly as Powerplay goals from James Ferrara and Marc Levers drew the Phantoms to within 1 goal with 2 minutes of the game left, but with Long sacrificed for the extra skater it was left to Liam Charnock to conclude the scoring with an Empty Net Goal to have the Steeldogs the 7-5 victory.

Next up for the Phantoms are the Annual Ashes Challenge games agaisnt the Milton Keynes Lighting this weekend. Phantoms will travel to Milton Keynes on Saturday before hosting the Lighting at 5.30pm on Sunday at the Peterborough Planet Ice Arena.

Last weekend saw the Lightning lose both of their opening challenge games against the Telford Tigers.