Slough Jets lined up against the Peterborough Phantoms on the back of 2 successive losses, against the Sheffield Steeldogs and surprisingly a midweek loss to the Swindon Wildcats. My honest prediction for those two games before both of them was a win last Saturday against the Dogs and then when that didn’t come true I thought Wednesday would be a bounce back demolition of the Cats.
Given the run of form for the Jets Chris Allen could have been forgiven for believing going into the game that his team had a chance. For the Jets on the other hand a weekend against teams placed 9th and 10th in a ten team league is the best possible way to try and hit form again. The next opponent is placed 8th so it’s 9, 10, 8 in order of opponents and these three games this week are crucial to get the Jets back on track for the remainder of the run-in.
My initial observation, before the drop of the puck was the fact that the Phantoms who I remember traditionally, back from the Pirates days and into their earlier Phantoms days had travelled light. Games against the Pirates/Phantoms always say their fans filling the away block but other than a couple of games (vs Guildford) this season I’ve yet to see the away block full to capacity.
The Phantoms were missing Chris Allen who has anchored their defence and Luke Ferrara who has been productive for them in point scoring. The Jets were icing all their players, except Tom Devey who was replaced by Ryan Bainborough but Darius Pliskauskas was on his way back from an injury sustained playing for his country.
It was Pliskauskas who scored first and made it 1-0 in favour of the home team. In my view that first goal would have been a priority for the Jets, to ensure they got a good start and weren’t chasing the game like they had the week before against the Steeldogs.
Peterborough equalised on the powerplay which was no problem, conceding a rare powerplay goal isn’t a problem. 1-1 now on the board but at 13.19 former Jet Tom Carlon bagged a goal to make it 1-2 with a shorthanded goal. Momentum swings can be big in ice hockey and to concede a shorthanded goal as the goal ahead goal wasn’t good when looking to come off a two game pointless streak.
The first period ended 1-3 and despite a better period in the middle frame for the Slough Jets the second period ended with the score still 1-3.
Two great goals in the third period sealed the comeback and the Jets were 3-3 and the game was back on. Points were in sight and it was all about closing out the game tight defensively and capitalising on any offensive chance
Darius picked up a penalty at 55.33 but this was cancelled out by a penalty to Greg Randall at 56.05 meaning the Jets would end up with a powerplay once Darius returned. No goals scored on the 4 on 4 so powerplay time it is but Ondrej Lauko snuck away with a shorthanded chance and just as Tom Carlon had done earlier in the game he scored the goal ahead goal while the visitors killed a penalty. Down a goal, a shorthanded goal and with just 2.14 left in regulation time it was easy to assume that a team could drop their heads but the Jets are made of more than that. At 58.37 it was back to the bench as Shep called the time-out and a tense 30 second wait for the team to re-emerge for the re-start.
Gregg Rockman made his way over the barrier onto the bench and with 1.23 left in regulation time the Jets gambled the empty net chance. Some great defensive work quickly broke up Peterborough’s offensive hopes and with 7 seconds left on the clock Darius netted the levelled goal to secure a point for the home team. As the teams took the brief break in between the 3rd period and overtime the joy on the faces of the Jets showed and as the 4 on 4 sudden death the Jets looked confident. The Phantoms who had been it would seem cruising towards a win were now scrambling for a win in OT rather than the assured win they seemed to have already secured while the Jets who had looked to be out of the game were now in the ascendancy and holding the momentum.
1.49 is all overtime lasted and it was Ryan Watt, who has been a go to guy all season long who slotted away the winner. Out in front the Phantoms left him with time and space to pick up Darius’ pass and calmly slot away the OT winner as if it was shooting practice at training.
With 2.14 left in regulation time the Jets looked to be going pointless yet within 4.03 they had turned their night from zero point into two point and in the process robbed the Phantoms of a point.
Credit to Peterborough who were more than good for their point. They played the game well, they capitalised on their chances and twice they took advantage of the Jets powerplay defenceman by netting shorthanded. Chris Allen can be proud of his team’s efforts last night and the deserved the point they took away.
The Jets played well for the final period of regulation to pull themselves back into the game at 3-3 but didn’t make it easy from there. The skill, talent and firepower on the Jets roster should have been good for the game winning goal in regulation time had they played the patient game but instead it was made more difficult by a second powerplay defence lapse that saw a shorthander scored.
Was it the big blow out win that it could have been? No certainly not but coming off the back of two losses a win is a win. An ugly win in OT is worth the same 2 points that a 25-0 win in regulation time would be.
Having played the team ranked 9th the Jets will play the team ranked 10th at Telford before coming home on Wednesday to play the team ranked 8th. This mini series against the lower placed teams couldn’t have come at a better time for the Jets as it enables them a run out to get back into form and find their scoring touch without the pressure of the higher placed, more accomplished and ruthless teams. The Flames, Phoenix, Lightning and indeed Steeldogs will all have better error punishment rates and all have lesser error rates in their own play so this lower end run out is a good chance to get things back “clicked” ahead of a tough weekend at Milton Keynes and Sheffield.