Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms 4, Haringey Huskies 2

NIHL South 2 – 18th November 2023

By Tom Pink

That was a bruising result for Haringey.

Particularly after the start we’d made to the season. After the graft, the resilience, after all of it.

But Peterborough are very good. There’s no getting away from that. You can lose one or two of those across a season in South 2, but it’s best not to make a habit of it. Not if you want top honours.

They were quicker, more decisive, and more aggressive than us for big parts of the game last Saturday. But it’s a bemusing performance and result, completely maddening, because there’s a strong argument that says Haringey could, and probably should, have scored more.

Like the result last year at the Palace, it could have gone tit-for-tat to 5-4. But it didn’t.

We firefight a lot. There’s lots of last-ditch stuff. Peterborough squeeze and squeeze.

Haringey are all effort, but it’s putting the puck in the net that we struggle with. I thought we had turned a corner with the wins against Bristol and Invicta, we’d put up some big scores against other teams too. But it’s that old frustration; so much good work but no reward.

The opening 10 minutes are electric. Frenzied end-to-end stuff.

Stuart Appleby finds Conner Smith in the slot from the right wing who forces a pad save. Straight after, Luke Clark makes two good saves in quick succession.

It’s great to have Leo De Souza back, and he does brilliant clearing up in our zone. A bundle of energy and purpose.

Joe Tearall and Jaden Boolkah have a couple of speculative sighters from centre ice.

Tom Avery does great to gain the blue line but drops the puck off to no-one in particular. Péter Tóth sends a shot from the point over the bar. Conner and Marton Szasz both have shots which are dealt with by the Phantoms’ netminder.

Peterborough then start to squeeze again. There’s a five minute period where it’s just all Phantoms, raining down shots on the Haringey net. We do well to weather it.

Woody picks a pocket in centre ice but can’t turn possession into something more meaningful. Marton is so nearly onto the puck in the offensive zone but the goalie comes miles out to cover it, which should have been called but the ref lets it go.

With less than three minutes left, the Phantoms’ pressure tells. Luke makes a reaction save to tip the puck onto the post, and moments later the Peterborough player walks up the slot and scores backhand over the Luke’s glove.

Right at the death, Luke Martin finds Ben Beldecos all alone in the slot but he shoots over. A great chance to tie it up before the end of the period.

The second period started brightly, and then got very dark.

Marton sends a wrister from the right on net, but it’s a pad save.

There’s a great chance after 4 minutes. Conner’s shot from the right is blocked and it bounces to the back post where Stu can’t quite get to it to force it in on the rebound.

Joe Tearall and Luke Martin link up but can’t craft a meaningful opportunity. Luke Clark makes a fantastic reaction save with his pads from the point through traffic. He sees it very late but manages to get his leg to it.

Joe Willingham (Haringey Huskies centurion!) hits a slapshot from the right into the goalie’s pads. Peterborough come back, and Luke gloves one from the point. They almost score again but it flies just wide.

John carries it the length of the ice but can’t find a pass or a shot at the end of it.

Eventually the Phantoms make it two. It’s a shot from the right hash marks which zips above Luke’s glove once more. Another sickener.

The third goal is disappointing though. A lack of awareness, not being switched on after the face off. We lose the puck and Peterborough waltz into our zone and score bottom right. Easy as that. Fifteen seconds after scoring their second.

The most painful thing about it is that I still believed we could get something out of the game. There’s urgency, there’s belief. Think of Bristol away. Never say never with this Haringey team. They’ve proved us wrong too many times before.

We push Peterborough back. Stu finds himself on the doorstep with time and space, but can only shoot into the midriff of the Phantoms’ goalie. Stu then puts it across the slot for Conner at the back who can’t get a good connection, and it spirals wide. Luke Martin, Tom Avery, Stephen Woodford all have shots saved.

The Huskies come out for the third with more purpose and more conviction.

There’s a couple of early half-chances, but you can already tell they want to get the game moving quickly.

Stu works it across the blue line to Conner on the left, but his wrister from the D is saved.

Peterborough are always a threat. Always. Even when Haringey have possession.

It’s Stephen who claws one back for the Huskies, scoring from close. 3-1 and game very much on.

John Beldecos snatches the puck centre ice but can’t get a hold of it. Jaden Boolkah’s slapshot from the point almost deflects in but spins wide.

But with 6 minutes left on the clock, in the game, with the Huskies having established possession in the offensive zone, pushing for more goals, we lose it and Peterborough pounce.

They skate all the way down the other end of the rink, in what seems like slow motion horror. They’re lightning quick and glacial slow all at once.

So often the hero in this game and many, many others, Luke can’t keep this one out. The Phantoms’ forward takes it right and it squirms between Luke’s skate and the post.

With so little time left in the game, coming back from 4-1 is a huge ask.

Conner sends another slapper from the right hard towards the net, but yet again Ryan Bainborough in the Peterborough net stands up tall.

Matt France shoots wide from the slot. Péter Tóth makes a brilliant poke check to deny a Phantoms’ forward in a 1-on-1.

There’s a glimmer of hope with 5 minutes remaining. Woody persists and jams away even when Bainborough thinks he has it. That’s eight goals in five games for Woody.

But time runs out, and the chances run out and Haringey lose their first game of the season.

Pete gets player of the match for Haringey on a frustrating night for the boys in black and white.

It’s not over though. Far from it.

Haringey have got the chance to put it right immediately this coming weekend, with back-to-back games against Streatham and Solent. A potential 4-pointer.

Saturday is one of the big ones, the ones you look forward to at the start of a season. It’s also the last home game of the year.

We lose together, we win together, we comeback stronger together.

Let’s start on Saturday.

Let’s Go Huskies.