Flames complete near perfect playoff group round; advance to Coventry at top of Group A

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Guildford Flames logo Andy McKinney had a couple of goals, including the winner just 20 seconds into the 3rd period, that helped lift the Flames to a 5-2 win over visiting Peterborough Phantoms. The win completed the top table placing with an 11 point run from a possible 12 in closing out the group round stage of the playoffs. It also followed up on Friday’s 2-1 win over Sheffield Steeldogs that guaranteed a Coventry Final 4 Playoff berth where the Surreys side’s playoff title defence will continue with a 1 game elimination semi-final against Group B 2nd place club Milton Keynes Lightning.

Phantoms defenceman Owen Griffiths who has realised it is too late after a Tom Duggan shift put the Flames forward in alone on Peterborough’s net where he scored the insurance marker to open a 4-2 Flames lead in the 3rd period.   Photo by John Uwins.In the semi-final clinching win at Sheffield, the Steeldogs were first on the sheet shortly after faceoff with a Lewis Bell strike less than 4 minutes in, but that would be the only blemish on netminder Mike Will’s outing. A relatively quick reply by McKinney squared it, and level at a goal each was where it stayed through the remainder of that period and through all of the next. Just 29 seconds into the final frame, the clincher, off the stick of Michal Satek, ensured next round advancement.

In the group closer, David Savage got things started when he put the Flames in an early lead, but Darius Pliskauskas capitalised on a turnover to level it at a goal each at 6:46. At the 18 minute mark Scott Robson buried a rebound that had the visitors up a goal to start the middle set. The Flames pulled even with a McKinney strike that was the only goal of the 2nd. Just 20 seconds into the 3rd, McKinney added another that had the Flames back in front and then some Tom Duggan magic in the 48th minute had Spectrum’s men enjoying a 2 goal cushion. Inside the final 5 minutes Ben Campbell closed out the home ice season with a shorthanded marker that completed the Flames near perfect Playoff group round record.

“It was obviously a crucial game at Sheffield in terms of securing a berth at Coventry,” offered Paul Dixon. “It is amazing what a difference that one 3rd period goal, the winner, made in terms of where we were at. Failure to capture that game, and the way things went on Saturday for other teams, would have had us in a must win game at home on Sunday against Peterborough in the final group round match. As exciting as that might have been, you never want to put your advancement hopes on the back of a one game showdown where anything can happen. As it turned out we won the game anyway, and now we have to credit this team for putting in an unbelievable 6 game group round package. It was a stretch of success we had not really achieved all season, against some high quality teams, so good for all of them for their delivery so far in the post season. We are looking forward to getting to Coventry to see if we can complete a full defence of our playoff title.”

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