MANCHESTER MAYHEM 3 – 2 PETERBOROUGH PHANTOMS (AOT)
Two goals by Manchester defenceman Graham Wilson helped seal his sides playoff place in their debut season thanks to a 3-2 overtime win over fellow playoff chasers the Peterborough Phantoms in a thriller at Widnes SilverBlades Ice Rink.
Both teams went into the contest knowing that win for either side would be a huge push towards their own playoff hopes and aspirations, with the losing side having their task made a bit more harder. This year has seen a difficult one for both teams on the ice and for Manchester equally as tough on and off this season coming quickly and after a tough year both teams on the ice this season.
The games first chance fell the way of the Mayhem side early on, with Anthony Booth dispossessing a Phantoms man at centre ice and saw his teammate Karl Nicholson getting up in support to join the attack and after a quick pass up towards him, the effort on goal was well dealt with by Rob Gaze in the Peterborough goals.
Manchester were the clear aggressors in the game early on and put a lot of pressure on their opponents, to begin with, and had the Phantoms at threes and fours on many occasions. Peterborough then had a man sent to the box for a penalty and that saw more play down in the Phantoms end, but brought no reward to the Mayhem side as shots were wayward.
Forward Anthony Booth then found himself getting behind the Phantoms defence in the game and having a clear route to goal from the wing, but his shot was stopped dead by Gaze in the visiting goals and would be a recurring theme throughout the game. Matt Coleman then had the Phantoms first real sight on goal with a shot at the near post, with the Mayhem goalie Steve Midghall making a good save to deny the Peterborough man and keep the game goalless.
Gaze was obviously in no mood to let anything puck based get by him in the game, as it saw him being forced to make another fine save off Ant Booth, and repel everything to help his side out, as they were coming under heavy fire from the Manchester forwards. Coleman once more tested Midghall in goal again from distance, but the netminder more than equal to it and saw the goalies looking on good form.
With Manchester dominating the play in the period and not having much to show for their efforts, it came as no surprise then when the home side finally opened the scoring with 2.20 left to go in the period thanks to an unlikely scorer.
After a long pass up the boards was taken in by Rob Allen it saw him battling on the blue line before getting a quick pass away to Karl Nicholson, who then spun and found Booth skating down the left wing and quickly made a pass across the face of goal for Graham Wilson to get on the end of and score his first career goal for a 1-0 lead.
Manchester pushed hard for the second goal soon after, with defenceman Dean Laham almost doubling the lead a minute later for the home side with a high shot but the puck just went over the bar of the Phantoms net and saw the Mayhem continuing to swarm all over the Peterborough crease.
Steve Bradley then went close before the end of the period with an effort from point blank range with the netminder yet again coming up trumps for the Phantoms and making a good stop to keep to a one-goal deficit after one period of play.
The second period saw the proverbial ice tilted towards the Phantoms end as the Manchester side came out well on top in the period, but just could not find any way passed Rob Gaze in the opposition’s goal as he was having a stormer of a game. Peterborough was really struggling to find any rhythm in the game and was becoming difficult to force their way back, but with the score line as it was, they were always still in the contest.
Peterborough then struck the goalpost and sent a warning to their opponents that they were not fully out of this game yet, and could still be dangerous when given half the chance. Manchester was carving out a few more goal scoring chances for themselves, but in the process, they weren’t able to convert them and had Gaze proving to be a thorn in the Manchester side.
As play moved to the third, it saw the Mayhem continuing to dominating and saw Anthony Booth going close with effort inside the opening minute of the period but had it come to nothing.
The game then began to see the home side starting to look a bit sloppy in their play and make some poor decision making in their approach play too. This seemed to encourage the travelling Phantoms side and saw him inching their way back into the game more and more put the hosts now slowly on the back foot.
It was a pretty stop-start period to begin in truth, with the whistle being blown for a lot of the time early doors. Despite Manchester having more goal attempts than that of their opponent’s, those efforts that they were creating though weren’t too threatening at all and saw the Mayhem unable to find this second goal that you felt would kill the game off.
With the scoreline standing at 1-0 still in favour of the Mayhem, it was almost inevitable that the away side would strike and make them pay and that is just what happened. Matt Coleman scored the equaliser after a pass to Kieran O’Meara saw him playing it back to Coleman for the Peterborough man to fire a low shot into the far corner of the net and make it 1-1 with just over 8 minutes of the game left to go.
Peterborough had been reinvigorated with that goal by Matt Coleman and saw the visitors now having the play in their favour and tilting the ice on their opponents. The visiting side then took the lead soon after thanks to Matt Coleman’s second goal of the game and came about from the Mayhem failing to clear their lines.
It saw the Mayhem Captain Karl Nicholson unable to get the puck cleanly and got in a tangle and was dispossessed by Phantoms Kieran O’Meara who them played in Coleman to put home at the near post with another well-taken goal and make it 2-1. Peterborough was well and truly having the bit between their teeth now in the game and saw the Phantoms having their purple patch in the game and making it count.
Manchester was seeing their playoffs evaporating before their very eyes and was mostly the Mayhem being architects of their own downfall in the game. Coleman had a great chance to put the game to bed with just under six and a half to play, but the Phantoms man lifted it too high and hit the plexiglass behind the net.
After such a good performance by the home side for the majority of the game, it was seemingly now looking like their playoffs hopes was diminishing with every second that passed by. Karl Nicholson then skated around the visitors back line with the puck and one on one with Robin Gaze and the netminder thwarted the Mayhem man once more and kept the Phantoms ahead.
With the game having less than four minutes left to play in regulation and seeing the Mayhem needing to score again to tie it up, it had the Peterborough side desperately trying to clear away and defend their precious lead in the game and made for a tense end to the game.
Desperation started to creep into the Manchester play and when Graham Wilson found himself behind the Phantoms goals he spotted the movement of Karl Nicholson and the captain fired into the back of the net for a 2-2 game with 2.53 left to go.
The game effectively now became an overtime period with both sides playing slightly cautious in their approaches with the period coming to a close. With 45 minutes unable to separate the sides, it meant that overtime was needed to find a winner and see who would take the extra point.
Play in the overtime period saw both sides cancelling the other one out and saw Karl Nicholson having the first chance to win the game as he went one on one with Rob Gaze and his shot struck the post and away. Ant Booth then had a half chance as the puck came to the Manchester man but the netminder was once again on top of the forwards to make the save.
Peterborough then went from defence into attack instantly, after Graham Wilson tried to keep the puck and managed to played it straight into the pass of the Phantoms player who went up ice and had Nicholson a the last man which brought an early rising shot and brought a great stretching save from Midghall.
With playing entering the last minute of overtime, it saw Manchester clearing the zone and set Nicholson away once again and had Gaze making another important save to deny the hosts a winning goal. Manchester kept the puck in the Peterborough zone and when Graham Wilson skated towards the front of the net he collected the puck and slid it past the despairing Gaze for the overtime winner and fire the Mayhem to victory.
The goal sparked celebrations from his team mate and in the stands, with the goal confirming their playoff place next month and have them joining Kingston Kestrels and Cardiff Huskies on September 2nd and 3rd in the Playoffs weekend.
Manchester Mayhem: Graham Wilson 2+1, Karl Nicholson 1+0, Anthony Booth 0+2, Rob Allen 0+2
Peterborough Phantoms: Matt Coleman 2+0, Kieran O’Meara 0+1, Scott Turner 0+1