SWINDON Wildcats were never able to recover from a disastrous opening 20 minutes as they lost 4-2 at Peterborough Phantoms this evening.
Going into the clash at Planet Ice on the back of a 3-0 win over Wightlink Raiders 24 hours earlier, Cats started slowly and fell three behind inside the first period without ever really forcing Phantoms netminder Janis Auzins into serious action.
The home lead became four just seconds into period two and, although Lee Richardson grabbed one back before Tomasz Malasinski reduced the home lead further, it was never enough to worry the Phantoms unduly.
The visitors huffed and puffed but couldn’t make the breakthrough in the final period, despite efforts on goal from Aaron Nell, Jan Kostal, and Kenton Smith after netminder Stevie Lyle had been pulled, as they fell to a disappointing defeat.
Cats had to survive an early barrage as Darius Pliskauskas, Milan Baranyk and Luke Ferrara all tested Lyle, before an Alex Symonds penalty for hooking spelt disaster as the hosts gave themselves a deserved lead. With the visitors all at sea, Ferrara was able to capitalise in front of the net to slam the puck home, following assits from Pliskauskas and Tom Norton.
Netminder Lyle had to be at his best to block Baranyk’s shot wide as he charged in one on one, before Cats missed out on their first powerplay after Alan Lack was called for hooking.
Smith was harshly sent to the bin for a soft trop on Pliskauskas, which sparked 26 seconds of madness which saw the hosts extend their lead from one to three.
First, with Cats down to four skaters, Phantoms player-head coach Slava Koulikov was on hand to slam home from close range before, just a few ticks of the clock later, Will Weldon fired off a shot which Lyle only partially saved before turning to see the puck trickle over the line.
Stunned Cats did their best to come back into the contest but couldn’t muster much in the way of chances before the end of the first session, before things got dramatically worse just a minute into the second period as Baranyk converted assists from Luke and James Ferrara to extend the home lead to four.
Wounded Cats’ response was instant, with Richardson turning in traffic to ram the puck through the legs of unflinching netminder Janis Auzins, who was tested thoroughly during the rest of the period but stood firm until Malasinski weaved his way inside before firing home off the right pipe to make the game a contest again.
Cats started the third in the manner they would have expected to have started the second, pressing the Phantoms’ net, but couldn’t find a way through before the final buzzer sounded.