The Planet Ice British Sledge Hockey League is in full swing. The first games started a couple of weeks ago, and now it’s the turn of Peterborough Phantoms vs arguably our biggest rivals in recent years, Kingston Kestrels. Kestrels lined up with a different and slightly smaller squad than last season, with them seeing the return Chris Wilson from previous seasons, and the addition of a new player in Dave Blakeston. On the other side, Phantoms boasted a large number of players, a number of them making their debuts not only for the club but in sledge hockey itself!
Despite the small number of players for Kestrels, what they do possess is a large amount of quality against our numbers. The starting line-up for Phantoms was Matt Coleman, Tyler Christopher and new boy/ex-Kestrels player, Ian Warner leading the attack. In defence, Darren Brown and Jon Le Galloudec, and Rob Gaze between the pipes. Kestrels lined up with Ian Houliston in net, Matt Clarkson and Sam Fitzgerald in defence. Matt Woollias, Chris Wilson, and Simon Berry supporting the front line.
The first period was a scrappy affair, with both teams trying to get control of the game. A lot of good hits going in, and Kestrels putting the Phantoms under a lot of pressure. Kestrels made that pressure pay off with a well-taken shot from Matt Woollias to the top left hand corner of the net in the 6th minute of the 1st period, giving the Kestrels account 1-0 lead.
A time out was called by the Phantoms, to try and get some structure and to calm down. It worked, they started to get our game together, and in the 12th minute of the 1st period, Tyler made a break with him getting just behind the goal. Despite having two Kestrels players smothering him, he managed to squeeze a pass through to Matt Coleman, who dispatched the puck under Houliston on the far post. Game on – 1-1!
2nd period saw the Phantoms starting to get to grips with the game. It’s not a surprise really, considering the Phantoms had a large bench, it was proving difficult to try and get everyone on the ice, and in some part this may have contributed to the difficulty in trying to maintain consistency during the game. However, the new guys contributed with new boy, Kieran O’Meara setting up the second goal for Phantoms in the 26th minute with a great pass to Tyler Christopher who was sitting just in front of the net to chip it over the keeper. The score remained 2-1 to Phantoms until the 3rd period. Despite having a small bench, Kestrels never tired and kept pushing for an equaliser. They got their reward in the 34th minute. Matt Clarkson, known for his powerful shot, decided to let one rip from the blue line, going through a number of bodies and into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. 2 – 2 – and with not many minutes left on the clock, both teams went all out to try and get the winner. It was anyone’s game right now, but thankfully for Phantoms, only a couple of minutes after Clarkson’s dam buster, Tyler setup Ian Warner, the ex-Kestrel, to score the winner for Phantoms on his debut.
Despite Kestrels pushing hard for an equaliser, Phantoms saw out the last minutes to finish the game as winners of their first home game of the Planet Ice League season. Planet Ice MVP was selected by the opposite teams, with Kestrels selecting Matt Coleman as the MVP for Phantoms, and Phantoms selected Matt Clarkson as the MVP for Kestrels. This was a tough game, and in truth the difference between one side not really having much of a bench and one who had loads didn’t show. Kestrels pushed all the way from start to finish. For Phantoms it’s a great sign to see everyone get some ice time, and all contributing to the win, we look forward to the next game against Cardiff, in a couple of weeks time, where hopefully our new squad will get another chance to gel together