Leeds Knights suffer National Cup final first leg misery at hands of Peterborough Phantoms
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Yes, there are 60 minutes of hockey in this tie still to come but, in reality, there is unlikely to be any way back for Ryan Aldridge’s team after the thumping they received in Cambridgeshire on Friday night.
For 20 minutes, all was well with the world. The Knights were trailing 1-0 as they came out for the second period, but they had played their part in a fast and entertaining first period against their hosts.
But then, like they have done to so many teams throughout the season, they got a taste of their own medicine when they conceded several goals in the space of just a few minutes.
Before they had time to settle themselves, they were 4-0 down just after the halfway point, the deficit five by the time the hooter came at the end of the second.
A sixth goal followed just over a minute into the third - just in case the Knights had any thoughts of a comeback - and, but for Sam Gospel, it could have been worse.
The Knights had plenty of chances themselves but came up against an in-form Jordan Marr in the Phantoms net.
It was just one of ‘those’ nights. Thankfully, the Knights haven’t had many of them this season, if any. To cap it all, the 6-0 defeat marked the first time this season they had been shutout.
The Knights went into the game missing D-man Sam Zajac – for the second game running – and forward Adam Barnes, although they were boosted by the return of import Zach Brooks, back from a brief return home for personal reasons and Lewis Baldwin.
Just under two weeks ago, Leeds headed home from Peterborough on the back of a hugely impressive 9-3 victory.
And while nobody expected a repeat of that dominant scoreline, to see it swing so fiercely the other way on Friday was a major shock.
As starts go it was a poor one for Leeds, going behind inside two minutes when Ralfs Circensis backhanded home from a rebound off Gospel’s crossbar.
But the game then settled into a quite even affair, Gospel denying Duncan Spiers and Will Weldon when well-placed while, at the other end, Marr frustrated Brooks and Mac Howlett from close range.
It was the same in the early part of the second, but then the game turned when Peterborough scored twice in 44 seconds, Joe Gretton tipping in from in front at 25.31 before the Knights left themselves horribly exposed to let in Lukas Sladkovsky on a one-on-one which saw him beat Gospel low down to his right.
At 30.09, a tripping call on Jordan Griffin allowed the Phantoms to make it 4-0 through Tom Norton, the situation worsening just over four minutes later when the same call on the same player saw the hosts make the man advantage count again, this time through Weldon from the bottom of the right circle.
Just 63 seconds into the third and Ales Padelek fired through traffic to make it 6-0. It was game over and, with it, probably Leeds’ hopes of a first trophy.