Match report by John Slater
This past Sunday evening the Bracknell Bees headed north to face the Peterborough Phantoms in Cambridgeshire for the second Sunday in a row and the third time in their last five games.
The home side were missing Marc Levers, Tom Stubley and Connor Glossop but added Callum Medcalf as Jason Buckman would act as coach for the evening. The travelling Bees were missing James Galazzi, Josh Smith and Josh Tetlow. Alex Mettam, for the Bees, and Janis Auzins for the Phantoms got the start in nets. Referee Kevin Ward took charge of the game with Donald Campbell and Ali Macphee running the lines.
The opening ten minutes of the match were a tight and tense affair as both teams battled hard looking for the opening goal. The travelling Bees were determined to make amends for the heavy defeat the previous weeks at the hands of the Phantoms and we’re still looking to break the losing streak against the Peterborough side which had extended beyond twenty games now. Chances came and went at both ends of the ice but both Auzins and Mettam stood firm and it wasn’t until just under twelve minutes had gone that the penalty box door was opened for the first time. The Bees Scott Spearing picked up a minor penalty for slashing and the Bees penalty kill unit set to work. Despite the Phantoms man advantage the Bees did well to see off the penalty and shortly after had a power play of their own as Owen Griffiths made his way off for interference. This time it was the Phantoms penalty kill unit that stood strong despite all the Bees could muster. The remaining three and a half minutes of the period saw the net minders maintain their dominance as the opening stanza would finish scoreless despite thirteen shots on goal from the home side and sixteen from the Bees.
With the second period not even ninety seconds old the Bees found themselves a man down for the second time as recent signing Shaun Thompson picked up a hooking minor. The Bees needed to dig deep to nullify the Phantoms advantage and they did so impressively with good work from Mettam and the defensive corps. The sides continued to exchange chances but neither side could force their way into the lead or find a way past either net minder. It was the home side however who broke the deadlock just short of the half way point of the game as Sam Towner found a way past Alex Mettam, assisted Wehebe Darge and Owen Griffiths. The Bees didn’t let the goal dishearten them however and continued to push forward impressively but Janis Auzins was in fine form keeping all efforts out that the Bees could throw in his direction. Bees player coach Lukas Smital collected an elbows penalty with four minutes remaining in the second period and for the third time on the evening the Bees penalty kill unit was called upon. Once more they stood firm and halted the Phantoms from making the advantage count with some solid defending. The middle period would end with the home side holding the narrow one goal lead despite being out shot in the opening forty minutes.
Into the final period and with all still to play for the Bees got off to a quick start seeking the equalising goal. The home side however also started at pace looking to go further ahead. Both net minders were still in superb form however as the early exchanges swung end to end and opportunities came and were dealt with by both shot stoppers. In what had been a fairly even and clean game the penalty box saw no action in the final stanza despite the teams battling hard. Unfortunately for the Bees the Phantoms found a way past Alex Mettam for a second time with a little over eight minutes gone in the sixty. Petr Stepanek slotted home a pass from Martins Susters, further assist going to Will Weldon. Both sides continued to press forward and the Bees came close late on but Janis Auzins remained steadfast in the Phantoms net. With seventy seconds remaining the Bees bench called a time out and removed Alex Mettam in favour of the extra skater – the tactic however proved fruitless as the Phantoms defence, along with Auzins, dug in and saw off the remaining time to seal the narrow victory.
Man of the match awards went to Bees net minder Alex Mettam and Janis Auzins for the home side Phantoms with both awards fully deserved following two outstanding performances.
Period scores: 0-0, 1-0, 1-0
Phantoms scoring: Stepanek & Towner 1+0; Darge, Weldon, Susters & Griffiths 0+1
Bees scoring: None
Phantoms PIMS: 2 (Griffiths 2)
Bees PIMS: 6 (Spearing, S.Thompson & Smital 2)
Phantoms shots on goal (Auzins): 37 (16, 11, 10)
Bees shots on goal (Mettam & Empty net): 37 (13, 12, 12) & 0 (0, 0, 0)