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Bracknell Bees 2 - 3 Peterborough Phantoms (After OT) (Thurs 26th Nov 2015)

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Bracknell Bees logo The Bees fell to the high flying Phantoms in overtime in mid-week action at The Hive...

Match report By Lewis Rudd of The Wokingham Paper

EDGARS BEBRIS broke Bracknell hearts on Thursday night when hitting the overtime winner which sent Bees crashing to a narrow defeat at the Hive.

Photo supplied by Bracknell BeesThe additional five minutes was just 21 seconds old when the forward collected a pass from Craig Scott and steadied himself before unleashing a strike which flashed past Alex Mettam in the hosts' goal and straight into the top shelf.

Defeat was harsh on the hosts, who took the lead twice against a side boasting the meanest defence in the league to date.

But the reigning play-off champions fought back, and with the incentive of a win taking them top of the EPIHL standings, twice pegged back bees before a moment of magic saw them secure victory.

In what has been a difficult week for the club off the ice, following a statement on the club's finances and the loss of Frantisek Bakrlik to Milton Keynes Lightining on Wednesday, Bracknell were looking to produce some cheer on it by securing a third win on the spin.

But in order to do so would have to overcome a Phantoms side which had won the previous 13 fixtures between the two sides.

And Bees would go into the fixture missing the absent David Savage, Matt Towalski, Callum Fowler and Tom Annetts, with young netminder Matty Smital taking the place of the latter.

Yet they started brightly, with Jan Bendik stinging the hands of Peterborough goalie Janis Auzins early on before fellow import Milan Kostourek, from a central position, screwed a shot wide of a post. Peterborough, though, would go even closer from their first real attack, with Scott rattling the ironwork from a powerful drive.

The pipework would soon come to the hosts' rescue once again when Ales Padelek tried his luck, with Bebris over with the next attempt at goal.

Losing captain Matt Foord to a hooking call would result in the away side piling further pressure on Bees from the powerplay, where Scott and Tom Norton, twice, went close to breaking the deadlock. A moments respite, though, came when Vanya Antonov, on the breakaway, played in player-coach Lukas Smital, but his attempt to stroke the puck under Auzins was easily swallowed up by the netminder. The chances and penalties (Sam Waller - roughing; Scott Robson - interference) continued to come and go for both sides, but neither were able to capitalise.

Arguably the best opportunity of the period, though, would fall the way of the visitors when Darius Pliskauskas, skating from deep, found himself one-on-one with Mettam.

The former Slough Jet chose to go high, but ended up clearing the crossbar. He then dragged another shot wide.

Antonov and Kostourek both traded missed opening as the opening session, still at stalemate, neared a conclusion.

But with just 24 seconds left on the clock, Bracknell seized the initiative.

In receiving a pass from Bendik, Scott Spearing showed close control to wriggle away from a marker before unleashing a shot on goal which was deflected home by Carl Thompson, who celebrated a first goal in the black and gold.

The lead was just desserts for the hosts, who had kept the opposition at bay and looked a real threat going forward, but it would not last long.

Peterborough began the second stanza on the offensive and quickly became encamped in opposition territory.

And when Norton and James Ferrera combined, only to see a strike diverted away, Pliskauskas was on hand over on the right side to sweep the rebound home, which was helped into the net by Mettam.

Punished for holding saw Robson sent to the sin-bin not long after, but Smital and Antonov were wide with chances which fell their way and the powerplay went without reward.

Yet they would fall into penalty trouble again, this time for having too many men on the ice, and it was during these two minutes where Kostourek went charging down the right wing before squaring to Spearing, whose first-time effort was only just wide of an upright.

Hearts, though, were soon in mouths when the Phantoms stormed up the other end, where Scott pinged a strike towards Mettam, who did well to get something behind the effort - only for the puck to drop loose in a precarious position.

The 'keeper, however, showed great reflexes to prevent a certain tap in at the far post.

This was quickly followed by a Bracknell attack - and a mass scramble around the crease as Bees tried desperately to regain the lead.

It was difficult to see where the puck was at this point, and many thought Foord had produced the finishing touch, but any celebrations were quickly ended by the officials, who called the play dead. The final chance of the period would go to the hosts, and it was born out of an incisive move instigated by Kostourek.

With Bees pouring forward on the counter, the import offloaded to Antonov, who then sent Smital through on goal, but the coach got his angles wrong and the opportunity went begging.

Full of ideas and backed by a passionate crowd, Bracknell looked the most likely to score next, and they did just that 22 seconds into the third session.

Starting the session on the powerplay following a goalie interference committed by the opposition, a trademark Bendik drive from the blueline, via a deflection, slammed into the crossbar.

But with Auzins already committed, Antonov reacted quickest to turn the puck home at the far post.

Peterborough's response was an immediate one, but the frame of the goal was again to get in the way of an equaliser.

Bracknell soon regained control of the fixture. Having hunted in packs all night was to almost reap rewards when Kostourek and Antonov did well to turnover possession in the corner, where the former went on to work Auzins into a smart stop down to his right.

The decisive moment of the game, however, saw Spearing burst down the left flank and pick out Thompson, who was presented with the chance to double his tally for the evening.

The forward did everything right, but would agonisingly see the puck skim the crossbar and into the possession of the Phantoms, who worked their way up the rink, where Robson's pull back over on the left would end up lighting the lamp following another wicked deflection.

Undeterred, Bracknell took the game to their higher-ranked opponents once more, but Smital and Kostourek were to be left frustrated after late attempts to snatch the win were foiled, meaning overtime would be needed to try and determine a winner.

It looked as though Bracknell would continue asking the questions once play resumed, but having stormed into the end zone, the Phantoms stole in, where Bebris going would deliver the final blow.

The two teams meet again tomorrow night in Cambridgeshire, where Bees will be looking to end a winless streak stretching some two years against the Phantoms (7pm). Sheffield Steeldogs then visit the Hive on Sunday (6pm).

Man of the match awards went to Carl Thompson for the home side Bees and to Craig Scott for the visiting Phantoms.

Match stats
Period scores: 1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 0-1
Bees scorers: Thompson & Antonov 1+0; Bendik 0+2; Spearing & Kostourek 0+1
Phantoms scorers: Scott & Pliskauskas 1+1; Bebris 1+0; Norton 0+2; Auzins & Ferrara 0+1
Bees PIMS: 6 (Foord, Bendik & Waller 2)
Phantoms PIMS: 10 (Robson 4; Pliskauskas, Weldon & Bench 2)
Shots on Bees (Mettam): 28 (12, 9, 6, 1)
Shots on Phantoms (Auzins): 31 (10, 11, 10, 0)

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