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Head coach Slava Koulikov heaped praise on his Peterborough Phantoms players following a ‘huge’ success last night (December 1).
That was his chosen description of a 4-1 triumph at table-topping Swindon in NIHL Division One South – a fantastic outcome which lifted Phantoms to within a point of the beaten leaders with two games in hand.
And it wasn’t just the result at The Link Centre that impressed Koulikov. He was also thrilled by the performance produced as his side recovered from conceding an early goal to ooze class.
Phantoms were stung by a Swindon opener from Toms Rutkis after just 85 seconds, but they soon gained control thanks to a swift scoring salvo with three goals in little more than four minutes as a Corey McEwen brace was followed by a powerplay strike from import Ales Padelek.
Phantoms cashed in another numerical advantage in the second period when player-coach Tom Norton added their fourth goal and Swindon could only manage one reply from Sam Bullas in the final session.
The Wildcats pulled netminder Renny Marr with more than two-and-a-half minutes left on the clock, but Phantoms comfortably saw out the contest.
“It’s a huge win at the start of a hectic spell of games,” said Koulikov, whose side face eight fixtures in just 16 days. “And it was a great performance from the guys to win in the building of the title favourites.
“We produced an unbelievable defensive performance when we drew in Swindon in the NIHL Autumn Cup semi-final last month.
“But this time we really showed our quality as an offensive team. In fact I have not seen any better powerplay goals from us in a long time.
“Not only are we over-achieving again this season, we are doing it by performing consistently well. We’ve been putting together very good hockey games from early in the season.
“The guys love to skate, love to play and some of the things they are doing are just ridiculous.”
The success in Swindon lifted Phantoms into second place in the NIHL Division One South standings and moved them to the top of the NIHL South Cup table.
They will seal that position if beating Milton Keynes Thunder at home on December 16 – the last of their eight games in quick succession.
But they have plenty of other important fixtures before then, starting with a home clash against Bracknell tonight (December 2, 5.30pm) at Planet Ice.
Koulikov’s men climbed above the Bees, who now sit third, last night.
1.25 Rutkis ass: Nethersell
49.02 Bullas ass: Birbraer/C. Jones
13.21 McEwen ass: Stepanek/Susters
15.41 McEwen ass: J. Ferrara/Stepanek
17.44 Padelek (PP) ass: J. Ferrara/Weldon
36.09 Norton (PP) ass: Susters
SWINDON – Sam Bullas
PHANTOMS – Corey McEwen