Saturday 2nd July saw the Peterborough Phantoms host the Sheffield Steelkings for their second meeting this season. On paper the teams were pretty evenly matched on numbers. The Phantoms started the game with a point to prove, in the last meeting at the Steelkings home they took a surprise lead in the opening minutes with a long shot from John Oakley which saw the puck travel three quarters of the rink to just slide under Phantoms stand in keeper for the day Mitchell Mannion & his first ever experience of Sledge hockey was to pick the puck out from the back of the net.
Captain Matt Coleman (#11) leading by example opened the scoring in the first 35 seconds leaving the visitors in no doubt they were in for a hard game. An awkward bouncing puck from a face-off saw Coleman first to it and take swipe at goal. With their keeper going to his right the puck found it’s way in to the bottom left for the first goal of the game.
5 minutes later Scotty Turner (#12) got his 1st goal set up by Matt Coleman and his medium range effort made it into the corner of the net. (Sorry no video Scotty, some how the camera was pointing at the ceiling!).
Just 15 seconds after play resumed from the face-off the Steelkings keeper found himself picking the puck out of the onion bag once again, a succession of quick passes involving Josh Campbell (#23) & Kieran O’Meara (#29) setting Scotty up for his 2nd goal. The Phantoms kept the pressure on despite going one man down when Coleman was sent to the sin bin for a teeing call and even with the extra man advantage the Steelkings found it hard to get the puck over the half way line. Eventually this pressure culminated in defender Darren Brown (46) playing a one two with Turner and receiving the return pass sent Brown clear through on goal with just the keeper to beat which he did with aplomb placing the puck over the keepers left shoulder finishing the 1st period 4-0 to the Phantoms who seemed to be finding their stride.
The 2nd period both teams returning to the ice refreshed and ready for the next 15 minutes of relentless battle. However continuing where they left off in the first period Phantoms defender Brown netted his second goal of the game. Picking the puck up below the half way line from a Steelkings clearance Brown carried the puck out wide to the boards and diving inside one Steelkings defender found his route to goal blocked by another. Instead of taking on an impossible shot which would have been destined for the defender to block or a simple catch for the keeper, carrying the puck round the back of the net and up round the boards he turned in around the top of the face off circle and with defenders closing in took a snap shot that found its way under the sprawling Steelkings keeper. Almost identical move he scored from on Steelkings home ice a few weeks ago.
Within a few minutes Brown was on the score sheet again. A close range shot from Matt Coleman saw the Steelkings rear gaurd make a great block, unfortunately the puck rebounded and slid perfectly to Brown on the blue line and his snap shot saw the puck go in off the underside of the cross bar for his first hatrick this season. Just 24 seconds later saw the Phantoms reduced to 4 once again, a very harsh call for interference as Phantoms captain Coleman was once again sent to the naughty boy stool with 17.47 on the game clock, maybe now the Steelkings could get some momentum and get themselves on the score sheet.
Though the Phantoms were shorthanded it didn’t seem to hinder them as a team and within the period of regaining their numbers they were once again on the score sheet from forward Josh Campbell (23) getting his 1st of the season assisted by Turner. A quick break out pass from Brown allowed Turner to use his speed and carry the puck down and round the back of the Steelkings net and providing support Cambell had ghosted in to the center of the net waiting for the pass and sliding it under Bryan Hackworth in the Steelkings net. 7 nill and the Phantoms were in cruise control.
The 2nd period ended on a massive high for defender Dave Threadgold (18) getting not only his first goal of the game but his first goal ever. Picking the puck up on the blue line he steadied himself and with a right hand shot put it in the top corner out of Hackworth’s reach and making it 8 on the scoreboard. It soon became clear that was just the confidence boost Threadgold needed as he took several more attempts bringing some great saves out of the Steelkings netminder. At the end of the 2nd period the Phantoms had a commanding lead of 8-0, showing the visitors why they are the 3 times reigning champions.
The final period brought about the chance for the Phantoms & newly appointed GB head coach Ian Offers the chance to experiment with a new layout, shifting several players in to unfamiliar roles to see how they would adapt. Scotty Turner dropped back into to defence with man on fire Darren Brown. Bringing on Graham the tank” Kimber and switching Dave Threadgold to the wing.
Phantoms eased off in the 3rd period choosing to concentrate on retaining the puck and controlled possession something which is going to be essential in their final two games of the season against Hull Kestrels & Cardiff Huskies.
The scoreboard flickered into life once more at 35.45 as Brown netted his 4th goal of the game. A loose puck cleared into the corner from the Steelkings end fell to Brown around the face off circle, taking a quick shot the puck deflected in to the top right corner off the keepers helmet making the score 9 nill.
Despite defending hard against wave after wave of attacks the visitor couldn’t capitalise on the few break out attempts they had and were punished for it when Coleman made it double figures on 39.50. Pushing forward the Steelkings lost possession deep in the Phantoms half and picking the puck up behind his own net Brown pushed the puck against the board and outside the on rushing attacker, Brown was on a charge and determined to finish the game strongly. Reaching the Steelkings faceoff circle he turned in across the net and looked certain to get his 5th. Brown had other ideas though and knew he had support and just had to find the right moment to lay it on a plate. A simple short pass across the keeper to Coleman saw him sweep the puck in to the lower left of the net off the post and double figures on the board.
The final nail was hammered home by Turner. Taking a shot from the top of the face-off circle Turners shot flew straight in to the top right corner of the Steelkings net.
The game ended 11-0 to the champs and even tho the score line itself was a great result, seeing the team come together, passing strongly through out the game, reserve goalie Mitchell Mannion making some good saves from shots that just a few weeks early would probably have found their way in to the back of the net meant he kept a clean sheet in only his second ever time in a sledge.
Phantoms now sit top of the league with their 2 toughest games to play against Hull Kestrels & Cardiff Huskies means this league will go down to the wire. Phantoms require at least 1 win & a draw to ensure their 4th league Championship in 4yrs.
Afterwards Scotty had this to say on his & the teams performance…
Really pleased to have been awarded MoM, I think it was a great team display and we not only got a few goals on the score sheet but also managed some really nice plays that will stand us well going in to the next 2 games. scotty#12
…and a pleased but shell shocked dazza:
Well that went well, think it was one of those days where everything i hit actually went in the right direction… for once lol. dazza#46
Phantoms next game is currently pending, it was meant to be in Hull but due to the Hull rink having plant issues the ice isn’t holding up to the outside temperature which is hopefully being repaired, sadly not in time for the next game which will change venue to be hosted in Peterborough on the 9th July, this coming weekend. Face-off is 4.30pm.