Saturday evening saw a table topping clash at the Peterborough Arena as the DALROD sponsored Peterborough Phantoms took on the Telford Tigers.
A good crowd, bolstered by a large number of travelling Tigers fans, were entertained to a game that was akin to Play-Off Hockey from the opening puck drop, as the Officials let the game flow and only called penalties when things threatened to get out of hand.
Former Phantoms netminder Thomas Murdy, now playing for the Tigers, and current Phantoms netminder Janis Auzins were the busiest men on the ice as both sides came close to scoring in the opening period. Milan Baranyk and Edgars Bebris came close for the Phantoms whilst ex-Elite League forward Max Birbraer and Scott McKenzie both looked dangerous for the visitors. With the opening period clock running down Tigers Sam Zajac and Phantoms Alan Lack clashed behind Murdys goal. After a few words both dropped the gloves and it was Phantoms Lack who got the takedown and the applause of the home supporters.
The middle period started at the same frantic pace of the opening period. Luke and James Ferrara both had chances early on for the Phantoms, whilst ex-Phantom Joe Miller was causing trouble around the Phantoms net, and defenceman Rupert Quiney was keeping Auzins alert with his slapshots from the Blue line.
The game turned late on in the period as the visitors netted twice in the closing minute. First, a Phantoms attack at one end of the ice turned to a Tigers breakaway when Max Birbraer found Blahoslav Novak whose breakawy left the Phantoms defence chasing the Tiger down the ice, only to watch as Novak slotted the puck past Auzins to make it 1-0 to the visitors. With the game into the last 10 seconds of the period, Tigers doubled their lead when a scramble in front of Auzins net saw Birbraer this time get on the end of the puck to double the lead.
Phantoms have shown already this season that they are no longer afraid of being a goal or two down, and that if you play for 60 minutes games can be turned around, and that belief showed as they came out and attacked the Tigers from the off. Phantoms were matching the Tigers in the final period, hit for hit, shot for shot. It was a bit of luck that gave the visitors their third goal of the night on 46.30. Rupert Quiney saw his shot from the left of Auzins goal rebound off the backboards to Dan Davis who was on the right hand side of the goal and couldn’t miss the empty net.
If the Tigers thought it was game over they were soon reminded that there was still a while to go when the Phantoms ended Murdy’s shutout a minute later. Darius Pliskauskas pass to Luke Ferrara found the Phantoms youngster, currently enjoying playing on a two-way contract with the Elite Leagues Sheffield Steelers, finally find a way past Murdy to give the home team some hope.
A Phantoms timeout with 2:20 left on the clock saw Auzins sacrificed for the extra skater. Phantoms kept the puck in the Tigers end, but the visitors were holding on for their victory. With 41 seconds left Scott McKenzie won the puck and found Max Birbraer who fired into the empty net to seal the victory for the Tigers.
Man of the Match awards went to Thomas Murdy for the Tigers and Luke Ferrara for the Phantoms.
The result see’s the Tigers move 2 pts clear at the top of the table, whilst Phantoms now share 2nd place with the Basingstoke Bison.