Leeds Knights: Frustration at Peterborough Phantoms as Knights miss out on four-point NIHL National haul
Having finally ended their six-game losing streak in the league the previous evening on home ice against Bees IHC, Leeds were well-placed at Planet Ice Peterborough, coming out for the third period 4-2 to the good.
But, just 36 seconds in, the Phantoms were within one goal when Thomas Norton fired past netminder Harrison Walker, who had impressed on his first start of the season.
Just over six minutes later, Norton was at it again - this time scoring on the power play with Archie Hazeldine in the penalty box on a tripping call.
A little under seven minutes later came what proved to be the game-winning goal, Kieran Brown was thrown out of the game for roughing, Callum Buglass scoring from the resulting power play to put the home side in front for the first time on the night. And although Whistle’s team - again short-benched because of injuries - fought until the bitter end, they couldn’t find a way past Jordan Marr for a fifth time, their fate being sealed by an empty-net strike from Nathan Salem with four seconds remaining.
“That was a tough one to take, especially when we were up 4-2,” said head coach Whistle.
“It had been a good feeling to snap that losing streak on Saturday night against Bracknell.
“But tonight we had it. You’re up by two, all you’ve got to do is buckle down defensively, not give them that much.
“But then we took a five-minute penalty late in the game and, again, they scored on it.
“Right now, we’re at a time where we need to win games and I really thought we should have won - in my mind, it was two points missed.”
It had all started so well for the Knights, too, taking the lead after just 61 seconds through Adam Barnes, their advantage being doubled by captain Sam Zajac at 8.46.
Just over a minute had elapsed before the hosts halved the deficit through Salem, the equaliser coming just after the halfway mark via the stick of Morgan Pizzo.
But Leeds quickly rebounded from that setback, going ahead once again through Brandon Whistle at 33.20, their grip on the game being strengthened by a second on the night for Barnes at 36.27, making the most of a power play brought about by a slashing call on Norton.
Even when the Phantoms got to within one so quickly in the third, the Knights were still good value for their lead, but the two penalty calls proved decisive, leaving them to lick their wounds on the coach ride home up the A1.
Despite the loss, Whistle will still be able to take some positives from the weekend, not least the solid performances across both nights from 17-year-old Tate Shudra - younger brother of forward Cole – and the display from Walker in net.
“Harrison played really well I felt,” added Whistle. “He did his job which was to give us an opportunity to win.
“I’m super-happy for him, he made some good saves right off the bat. They tested him from the start but he did a good job for us back there, he was very solid and played real well from start to finish.”
Leeds knights 4 Bees IHC 2 – Losing run ended after Whistle continues his hot goalscoring streak
A BRANDON WHISTLE hat-trick - his third in six games - spearheaded Leeds Knights’ determination to end their six-game losing streak in front of another healthy home crowd on Saturday night.
Prior to securing two points against Bees IHC, the Knights hadn’t tasted victory in the league since October 23 when they edged out hosts Swindon Wildcats 3-2 after a shoot-0ut.
In between, of course, had come two wins over Sheffield Steeldogs in the semi-finals of the Autumn Cup - sealing a place in the final against Swindon. But the league form, extended to six games by a 6-2 loss to Peterborough Phantoms 24 hours after beating the Steeldogs last weekend, was becoming a concern, regardless or not of whether the Knights were being hampered by a never-ending list of injury problems.
Both previous league games between the two teams had ended 5-2, the home team coming out on top on each occasion.
It was Whistle who broke the deadlock when he got the hosts on the board at 15.58, the scoreline remaining like that until a frenzied two-minute spell towards the end of the second period when two goals went in at either end.
Juha Lindgren levelled for the visitors at 36,38 when he fired past Jordan McLaughlin, with only 12 seconds having elapsed before Whistle restored the Knights lead.
That lead was doubled just over a minute later by Kieran Brown, only for Lindgren firing his second - on the power play at 38.47 - to ensure it was a one-goal game going into the third.
Leeds had the betterof the chances in the third, but couldn’t put further distance between themselves and the visitors, the points only being secured when Whistle sealed his hat-trick with an empty-net strike with just 28 seconds left on the clock.