Tigers still aiming for play-offs after loss to Phantoms

Tigers still aiming for play-offs after loss to Phantoms

Telford Tigers remain in charge of their own play-off destiny, despite losing 5-2 to Peterborough Phantoms on Saturday night.

Defeat means Telford must take two points from Sunday’s visit of Sheffield Steeldogs to qualify for next week’s play-off finals.

A breathless encounter at Bretton Road saw the Tigers take control in the middle session, before a rash of goals in the final 20 minutes.

Tigers coach Tom Watkins, who watched his men beat Sheffield 8-3 last week, said: “My guys are more than professional enough to get the job done and we know what is at stake tomorrow night.

“It is in our hands and that is all we wanted when we started this play-off run. We know what we need to do.

“I have more than enough faith in the players.”

The first period on Saturday was played at a frenetic pace, with the Phantoms enjoying the majority of the early possession.

That pressure paid off after just a minute, when Ales Padelek struck from close range following a goalmouth scramble.

Telford closed down that initial threat later in the session, but were unable to find a way past netminder Jani Auzins.

Sam Zajac and James Archer dropped the gloves midway through the period, as tempers on both sides threatened to boil over.

Zajac was the clear winner in that encounter, with the Phantoms failing to convert to resulting powerplay.

Telford had the upper hand after the first break and equalised just a minute into the second session.

Doug Clarkson was the scorer after his shot from the blue line beat Auzins through a crowded penalty area.

That pressure kept the Phantoms at bay for much of the period, although Telford again fell behind on 13 minutes.

That goal came after another goalmouth scramble gave Edgars Bebris the chance to slot home on the powerplay.

Watkins added: “I thought we totally dominated the second period. We had the better possession and good quality scoring opportunities.

“We made a couple of mistakes and in play-off hockey, that sort of thing always hurts you.

“We made some bad decisions and they caught us.”

Peterborough added a third goal at the start of the third period, when Padelek’s angled shot found a way past Jon Baston.

But Tigers captain Jason Silverthorn hit back with five minutes remaining, with a low shot past Auzins on a breakaway.

Any hopes of a Telford comeback were swiftly put to bed, however, with late Phantoms strikes from Petr Stepanek and Robert Ferrara.

“I thought we played hard tonight and I can’t fault the boys’ effort or commitment,” Watkins said.

“Any of those things you want from play-off hockey. We didn’t get any bounces or favours tonight and we didn’t get it done in front of their net.”

Sunday’s final home game of the season, against Sheffield Steeldogs, faces off at 6pm. For tickets, go to www.tigershockeyuk.com.