The first job is done – Peterborough Phantoms have snatched back the Ashes.
The new-look city side followed up a 5-2 Saturday success with a 3-1 second leg triumph last night Sunday (7 September) to secure an 8-3 aggregate triumph and complete a pleasing weekend of work at Planet Ice.
The overall outcome was not in the least bit flattering for a Phantoms roster still very much at the drawing board stage following a raft of summer arrivals.
Parading a trophy in early September – especially one gained against their fiercest rivals MK Lightning who dished out defeats in all seven encounters last season – is certainly a great confidence-booster ahead of a long, hard English Premier League (EPL) campaign, but it is honours won in eight months’ time on which teams are judged.
That point was not lost on local lad Luke Ferrara, the forward who put the seal on Phantoms’ triumph with a length-of-the-ice, empty-net strike last night.
Ferrara said: “The boys worked hard throughout 120 minutes of hockey this weekend and I don’t think there can be any doubt we deserved the results.
“We had something to prove against MK after doing so badly against them last season and hopefully the two wins are a good sign for what lies ahead.
“The players have gelled very well and there is already a lot of good chemistry there, but this was only pre-season and we cannot get ahead of ourselves.”
Ferrara was quick to admit his late clincher – his third goal of the weekend which was scored from beyond his own net and with his back to the Lightning target – owed much to good fortune.
It arrived during a bizarre spell in which Milton Keynes were guilty of having too many men on the ice, escaped a penalty, thought they had scored and then saw the effort disallowed on the say-so of the goal judge.
Phantoms had earlier hit the front through Marc Levers in the opening session before one of their old boys, Tom Carlon, hit the pipes almost immediately.
Carlon eventually levelled just after the midway point but Darius Pliskauskas’ perfectly-placed shot on a powerplay restored the lead on the night and handed Phantoms a four-goal aggregate cushion.
Ferrara missed the chance to extend it when seeing a penalty shot kept out by impressive Lightning netminder Jordan Hedley, but he did eventually apply icing to the Ashes cake late on.
The real business of EPL hockey begins next weekend. Phantoms start with a trip to play-off champions Basingstoke on Saturday (September 13) before entertaining Sheffield the following night (September 14).
Report courtesy of the Peterborough Evening Telegraph