Phantoms Down But Not Out
The DALROD sponsored Peterborough Phantoms may hve lost the opening leg of the EPL Play-Off Quarter Finals on Saturday evening, but they still have 60 minutes to turn the result around and make it to Coventry next weekend.
The opening period of Saturdays game saw both teams playing stereotypical play-off hokey – the referee kept his whistle in his pocket and both team fought hard and never backed down. Phantoms were dealt an early blow when after 10 minutes influencial D-Man Joe Graham took a puck to the face and had to leave the game to have the injury assessed. Despite the efforts of both sets of forwards, Damien King in the Phntoms goal and Mark Lee in the Flames goal ensured the period ended goalless.
Despite having been advised to go to Hospital to have his badly cut chin seen to, Joe Graham re-appeared for the second period, with hic chin taped up and a full face cage added to his helmet. Graham then showed what play-off hockey means to the Phantoms when he found himself going toe-to-toe with Flames Branislav Kvetan.
Flames took the lead on 26.26 when a Curtis Huppe shot from the face-off circle flew past an unsighted King and into the top corner of the Phantoms goal. three minutes later and it was 2-0 to the League Champions. Milos Melicherik’s waist height shot was deflected in mid-air by Ricky Plant to give King no chance. On the half way point of the period Jez Lundin took exception to Tom Carlons late stick poke on Mark Lee, resulting in the two dropping their gloves behind the Flames goal.
As the clock ran down, Phantoms still refused to back down from the Flames players. With the period coming to a close Will Weldon took exception to a Curtis Huppe check, standing up first to Huppe, then to Liddiard, Longstaff and other members of the Flames as the game looked to boil over. As the period ended Weldon and Longstaff came together again, with both benches now becoming involved with some chirping at each other. Just as the dust was settling and the players started to leave the ice, Andrew Sharpe decided to hook King as he went to leave the ice, which then saw Rob Ferrara step-up to look after his netminder and as players started to come back onto the ice it was obvious that both sides were going to have to fight for their places in next weekends EPL Finals. When both teams finally went to their dressing rooms the only penalties called were 10 minutes for Sharpe and Weldon.
The final period started with an early goal for the Flames which seemed to take the wind out of the Phantoms sails. This time it was Flames Coach, Paul Dixon who beat King on 41.31 to make it 3-0. Flames then started to lift their game and with Phantoms having to re-jig the lines the visitors started to gain more control of the period. Huppe scored his second of the game on 47.51 with a slapshot that went over Kings shoulder and dropped in off the crossbar to make it 4-0.
Despite all of the baiting from the Flames Brits and Imports, Jozef Sladok – making his Phantoms return from injury – didn’t get drawn into any fighting penalties, and showed that that is only a small part of his game. A solid game in defence was wrapped up with a well taken goal on 52.44 to reduce the defecit and give the Phantoms some hope.
Man of the Match Awards went to Curtis Huppe for the Flames and Will Weldon for the Phantoms. Following the game, Bob Hillier spoke to Stevie Johnson and James Ferrara for their thoughts.