On January 22nd 2017, Phantoms travelled to Telford for the second leg of the EPL Cup Semi-Final ….. a game that was to become shrouded in controversy !
In the first leg, four days earlier, Phantoms had won 4-2 after coming back from 1-2 down to win with two goals in the final period. Under traditional rules, that left Phantoms needing either a point or a defeat by less than two goals to win on aggregate but this season was different.
In an effort to avoid the second leg being a “dead rubber” in the event of a big win in the first leg, the EIHA had decided that goal difference would count for nothing so it was solely down to points and points only.
Telford were a formidable force on home ice and wasted no time in securing the second leg points with Phantoms deciding well before the end to pull netminder Janis Auzins to give him a rest in readiness for the inevitable overtime. The final period of regulation time became a farce with neither side having anything to play for and both sides knowing that it was all going to be decided in overtime.
Telford ran out 7-2 winners, which gave them an aggregate 9-6 victory but under the new rules, the tie was level and would be decided in overtime !
The overtime was fast, furious, dramatic, end-to-end but neither side could make the break through and the tie went to penalty shots. Ales Padelek, Darius Pliskauskas and Petr Stepanek all stepped up for Phantoms and all failed to beat Sam Gospel in the Tigers goal but then Janis Auzins was untroubled at the other end too and the tie went to a sudden death fourth round of penalty shots.
James Archer bounced #4 off Gospel’s pads but Auzins made a nonchalantly brilliant glove save to prevent Tigers top scorer Jason Silverthorn from winning the tie so off to round five and Wahebe Darge for Phantoms. Darge moved Gospel across his crease but got his shot away quickly enough to find the back of the net before Gospel could shut the door ….. now it was all down to Janis Auzins versus Tigers import winger Lubomir Korhon.
Korhon tried to move Auzins but Janis had seen it all before and closed the door on Korhon’s backdoor move to win the tie and put Phantoms through to the final.
Phantoms victory did not go down well with Tigers fans and it drew immediate criticism from Tigers coach Tom Watkins who proclaimed that the best team over the two legs had gone out but it was Phantoms who progressed to the final against Milton Keynes Lightning who, perhaps ironically, won the final on penalty shots !
Watch the overtime and penalty shots here >>>>> https://youtu.be/4krXnbSPe34