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Peterborough Secure Playoff Title

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Manchester Phoenix logo Peterborough Phantoms 5 Manchester Phoenix 2

Phoenix scorers: Frantisek Bakrlik and James Archer

PETERBOROUGH Phantoms are EPL Playoff Champions following an epic 5-2 win over Manchester Phoenix.

Slava Koulikov's side led 3-0 after 14 minutes but weathered a fine fightback to take their first playoff title since 2009.

James Archer and Frantisek Bakrlik scored to make it 3-2 at the end of the second but a Marc Levers powerplay goal with seven minutes to go and James Ferrara's late effort ensured that there would be no fairytale ending for Tony Hand MBE in his 34th and final season as a player.

The game may have been a tight and tense affair towards its conclusion but there was no sign of nerves as the Phantoms took what seemed to be an unassailable lead.

Early doors Bakrlik tested the excellent Janis Auzins twice before Thomas Norton did likewise at the other end.

But on Peterborough's next attack they took the lead when Cameron McGiffin combined with Edgars Bebris for Milan Baranyk to fire low after his initial shot had been saved by Stephen Fone.

On 3:24, with Ben Wood in the bin for Elbows, they doubled their advantage; Scott Robson making no mistake.

Phoenix looked rattled at this stage and almost conceded again in the eighth minute when they lost the puck in their own zone. Five minutes later,though, Peterborough turned the screw further.

Bebris was once again involved, shifting the puck to Baranyk who scored after another rebound.

At 3-0 the last thing Phoenix needed was to put themselves under pressure, but they did after Joe Graham was penalised for Hooking on 15:49. Luckily for them, Marc Levers hit the post before being binned for High Sticks.

Phoenix gained a short powerplay as the penalties overlapped and got back into the game as a result.

Numbers in front of goal paid dividends with Hand and Johan Burlin linking for James Archer to make it 3-1 on 18:15.

Compared to the first, the second period was somewhat quiet.

Phoenix forward Adam Walker tested his luck in the 26th minute and then his side passed up a couple of powerplay opportunities but whenever they got close to goal Auzins and his defence were superb

On 37:59 Phoenix made it a one-goal game when, with the Phantoms changing on the fly, Joe Graham saw the ice open up and he duly hit a fantastic two line pass to Bakrlik. The forward took it in his stride and slammed home from the left.

The final period saw Burlin given two minutes for Holding on 46:55 – subsequently killed – and then Donatas Kumeliauskas had his shot stopped by Fone.

But Manchester ran into penalty trouble with both Jack Watkins and Bakrlik sent to the box for High Sticks and Hooking respectively and ultimately, it cost them.

With the two man advantage Peterborough loaded up the box and Marc Levers scored following a huge scramble to make it a two-goal game.

And with 39 seconds remaining James Ferrara slammed home to send the Phantoms into raptures.

Phoenix player/coach Tony Hand MBE said after the game: “We gave it all we had tonight but fell just short. I am very proud of this squad who have battled hard all season. It has been tough on all of us but we will be back next season competing on all fronts. A huge thanks to the Phoenix fans who have got behind us in every game. You guys are something special.”

Click here for more information and news from the Manchester Phoenix website

Click here to see the latest Manchester Phoenix roster for the 2014/15 season

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