The DALROD sponsored Peterborough Phantoms qualified for the EPL Cup Final with a 3-0 victory in their Semi-Final 2nd Leg on Wednesday evening. Having drawn 3-3 the previous week at their opponents, the Milton Keynes Lightning’s rink, a Craig Scott hatrick saw them go through 6-3 on aggregate.
Having struggled against their local rivals all season, the Phantoms finally hit their stride when it most mattered.
The Phantoms took just 3 minutes to claim their first goal of the night. Coming out the stronger of the two sides the Phantoms tested Lightning Netminder Dean Skinns early on before Craig Scott found himself on the end of a Milan Branyk pass to slot the puck past Skinns. The goal raised the noise level even higher in the rink as the Phantoms fans sensed this could be their night.
The opening period set the tone for the night with both teams finishing their checks along the boards and never giving up on the puck – this was an old fashioned Phantoms v Lightning derby game, and the fans of both teams were enjoying every minute of it.
As the opening period clock ran down Ales Padelek came close to doubling the Phantoms lead, only to see his shot come off Skinns post.
Former Phantom Lewis Hook and Frantisek Bakrlik both terrorised the Phantoms defense in the middle period, but despite their efforts they came up against a netminder back on his game in Janis Auzins. At the other end Marc Levers came close with a breakaway after coming out of the penalty box, but despite being hauled down by Bobby Chamberlain, referee Paul Brooks decided no infraction had been committed.
Going into the final period, with a slim one goal lead meant that this was going to be the biggest 20 minutes of the Phantoms season so far. After a poor run over Christmas and New Year, the Phantoms fans were on the edge of their seats hoping tonight was the night they sent a message out to the rest of the EPL that they were back on track.
Ales Padelek and Darius Pliskauskas teamed up early on and despite some great work to pull Skinns out of position, Pliskauskas could only look on as his shot went slightly wide of the Lightning goal. The Phantoms did manage to find the back of the net on just under 46 minutes as Skinns failed to hold Milan Baranyks initial shot and Craig Scott was quickest to react to the rebound.
As the game wore on, the Lightning applied more pressure on the Phantoms, with Bakrlik seeing to never be off the ice. Leigh Jamieson and Jordan Cownie both went close for the visitors but on 51 minutes the Phantoms dealt the killer blow when Craig Scott completed his hatrick to book the Phantoms a spot in the final against either the Guildford Flames or the Basingstoke Bison.
With the clock running down tempers frayed and the game exploded in the final minute. On 59.04 some pushing and shoving around the Phantoms net saw Phantoms Will Weldon and Lightnings Frantisek Bakrlik have to be separated by the officials as Robbie Ferrara was jumped by Bobby Chamberlain for the only actual fight. Whilst that was going on Lightnings Grant McPherson had to be held back by the referee after getting into a heated debate with first Phantoms Captain James Ferrara and then Janis Auzins. At the end of it McPherson picked up a 10 minute incitement penalty whilst the Chamberlain, Bakrlik, Rob Ferrara and Weldon all say 2+2 fighting calls.
From the ensuing face-off Greg Pick jumped Lightnings Jack Watkins, a move which incensed Lightning Head Coach Pete Russell who became embroiled in an argument with Phantoms Head Coach Slava Koulikov and the Phantoms bench. Pick received a Match penalty for Fighting whilst both coaches were given 2 minute misconduct calls.
Man of the Match went to Michael Farn for the Lighting, whilst Craig Scott deservedly picked up the award for the Phantoms.