The Angry Budgie Live

Monday, 20 October 2014

Phoenix Rolling Cup Special - 11th October Billingham Stars

So the last weekend saw the Phoenix play NIHL opposition for the first time in the new English Challenge Cup competition. 
With the Phoenix in the northern group are: 

Billingham Stars 
Blackburn Hawks 
Peterborough Phantoms 
Sheffield Steeldogs 
Solway Sharks 
Telford Tigers 

The weekend saw the Phoenix take on the Billingham Stars in a home/away series across the weekend. Teams meeting in Altrincham saturday night, before the return fixture up at the Forum sunday afternoon. Going into the weekend the Phoenix were short on bodies, a few injuries, a restriction to only two imports, Tony asked not to ice. The u21's the Phoenix had hoped to use, in the EIHA's wisdom a Minators game was scheduled the same night so, the Phoenix had to call up a number of u18's to flesh out the bench. While the Phoenix would be expected to beat NIHL opposition, only dressing two imports, icing one at a time, and the inclusion of the youngsters would make it a different game to what Phoenix fans were used to. 

So, we all arrived at the Ice Dome, with a good contingent of noisy Stars fans, settled in to watch the nights action. 

First Period: The game began with the Phoenix retaining possession and, after just 50sec getting on the board. Bobby Chamberlain slotting the puck past Flavell in the Stars goal. Just the start the home fans wanted, even so, it was obvious this game would not be played at EPL intensity. The Stars were working hard but, lacked some of the finesse and skill the Phoenix had. Despite that the Stars did equalise, at 3min 31sec Davies got the Stars on the board to the delight of their fans. Phoenix re-grouped and asserted their control, keeping the puck in the Stars zone and being able to deal with any break-outs as they occurred. Shaun Thompson scored a quick fire brace when he managed to get into clear space around Flavell. His first coming at 11min 22sec and his second at 13min 15sec. The Stars were able to hit back when, ex Steeldog, Chris Sykes pulled the Stars back within a goal. The Stars second scored at 16min 19sec. While the game was close on the board it wasn't so much on the ice. Stars were working hard, especially Flavell in goal but, the Phoenix were rarely out of first gear for the most part. The first period ended with the Phoenix in control. 

Second Period: Perhaps it was the Stars tiring, perhaps it was the Phoenix moving up through the gears but, the home side put the game to bed in the second period. An early Watkins goal and a brace from Adam Walker made sure of the win just after the half way point. Watkins getting a reward for his hardwork when he scored the Phoenix 4th goal at 23min 23sec. Adam Walker getting his two (Phoenix 5th and 6th) at 27min and 34min 11sec respectively. The game then settled into a steady rhythm where the Phoenix controlled the pace and the Stars looked to begin tiring. The period ended with no further goals but, the Stars fans in fine voice. 

Third Period: No goals were scored in the third period but the Stars continued to bring the game to the Phoenix. The home side having eased off a little and allowing the u18's regular shifts. The Stars began to exploit some mistakes and create their own chances. As the period progressed and the result looked all the more certain. Tony Hand managed to give u18 nettie Harry Greaves get some ice time to close out the game. Perhaps receiving the loudest cheer of the night. The game ended with a win for the home side but, respect due to the Stars players and fans. 

Verdict: Not a classic by any means but, good to see a variety in opposition at the Ice Dome. The Phoenix rarely got out of first gear and, the difference in fitness was evident. But, the Stars were not disgraced, their players kept going, the fans were excellent and, in Flavell, they have a star goal-tender! 

Attendance: A decent crowd in the Ice Dome, i'll say 800. 

Phoenix 6 Stars 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Stars 2 - Stars Article

Sunday saw the reverse fixture up in the north east, the Forum is a place I have played Ice Hockey in the past and have fond memories. I couldn't make the game so have a look at the two match reports below for a run down on the Phoenix 6-1 win. 

Stars 1 Phoenix 6 - Phoenix Article
Stars 1 Phoenix 6 - Stars Article

Friday, 10 October 2014

Phoenix Rolling - 9th October Sheffield Steeldogs

Amazing to think that, last night, a rare mid-week fixture for the Phoenix was the 5th time the Phoenix and Steeldogs have met so far this season, including pre-season!! Thursday nights game was the third in the roses rivalry and the second to be played at the Altrincham Ice Dome. The Phoenix would be hoping for a better outcome this time around though. 

A cold night greeted the fans as they flocked to the Ice Dome, the crowd swelled by a number of school groups in attendance. The Phoenix went into the game without Jacob Corson-Heron and James Archer, Sheffield without Jeff Legue and Craig Elliot. 

First Period: The game got underway with a high tempo and a weird underlying tension, at least that's how I felt it. It almost seemed like, after the battle in Sheffield the last time both sides met, it would only take a slight incident to re-ignite the tensions. But, that fear was to be un-founded. The game saw Phoenix controlling most of the puck but coming up against a Steeldogs team who were set up and working hard to re-strict the Phoenix's scoring chances. Phoenix held the puck and pressed int he Sheffield zone but, it would be a turnover, with the D left high that would cost the Phoenix. Sheffield broke out with pace with the Phoenix defence light on numbers, Korhun taking on the puck and shooting a laser guided puck past Fone in the home net. Steeldogs taking the lead at 4min 41sec, against the run of play it may have been but, Sheffield took their chance! The period resumed and the Phoenix again dominated possession and shots on Sedlar but, none of the shots were particularly testing and, the defensive frailties lead to the odd breakaway. 

Second Period: For the first ten minutes of the second period you could just re-read what happened in the first and, the next goal in the period was a carbon copy of the first. Sheffield again absorbing immense amounts of pressure, to then capitalise on a turnover with a fast break. Korhun again taking advantage scoring the Steeldogs second at 30min 46sec. Phoenix knew this second period was now crucial. With the way the Phoenix had been playing, they needed to score the next goal. The pressure finally told when, at 36min 31sec, a Bakrlik shot was spilled by Sedlar and, Kovar was on hand to tap in the rebound. This followed a priceless moment where Payette was obsessed with shadowing Burlin along the blue line taking himself out of the game leaving Sheffield down a player on the ice! The goal being the first time the Phoenix had been in a position to tidy up a Sedlar rebound. The goal lifted the Phoenix who continued to pile on the pressure, Sedlar repelling the rest of the shots coming his way. 

Third Period: Into the final session, Phoenix continued to dominate the play but Sheffield remaining resolute in their D form and play, keeping the Phoenix around the perimeter and clogging up the shooting lanes in and around Sedlar. Sheffield still threatened on the odd breakaway but the Phoenix were finally making it hard and allowing Fone a chance to make the save. Phoenix did bring the scores level at 46min 40sec when Boothroyd brought the puck in off the blue line and let a wrister go. The goal was given to Bakrlik on the night but, personally, I thought it was just a superb shot from Boother, must have been tipped by Bakrlik on the way through! As time ticked by neither side were able to create a guilt edged chance for a winner, Ref Miller seemingly had woken up and started calling penalties in the last few minutes. The Phoenix, going into OT two men down, Graham in the box to be joined by Psurny. 

Overtime: The extra session began with a 5 on 3 to Sheffield as Phoenix had two in the box. Just 11 seconds into the extra session Lloyd Gibson was called for hooking, a make up call in my opinion! Overtime was played like most of the game had been, surprisingly without much niggle and Phoenix in control for the most part but, due to the penalties, it was a little confusing as to how many players each team should have on the ice! As said, the OT period was played like regular time had been, so it was Sheffield who scored the winner. Phoenix in control but turning the puck over centre ice, Gibson on hand to pick up the puck, move in on Fone and score the winner at 62min 20sec. 

Verdict: The stats will show how dominant the Phoenix were in this game is most ways but the important one. Phoenix outshot the Steeldogs easily 2 to 1 but, the telling fact was, the shorts were far from quality. 60+ shots and you only score two goals is appalling and far from title winning. That, coupled with some defensive frailties will see the Phoenix a fair way off title winning pace, to many times the Phoenix were caught high up the ice giving Sheffield the breakaway chance. Thank god Legue was not playing as the scoreline could have been worse! That being said, credit must go to Sheffield! Much like when the Bison come to town, they set up to absorb the pressure and hit the Phoenix on the break, Tony must see he needs a plan B! Its frustrating to see the Phoenix take game so easily but, give up too many goals to breakaways. 

Now, Sheffield, I would like opinion from fans across the EPL on this. If Sheffield win in your barn, do they celebrate like they have just won the stanley cup? I know winning in OT can be a real hyped up moment but, the way Sheffield celebrated their win last night was disgraceful. Proper stick's/gloves thrown into the air skating at speed to celebrate the win. Call me bitter if you like but, I have seen many other teams win in the Ice Dome in OT (Phoenix included) and none have celebrated like Sheffield do! Sheffield, you have spent alot of money on this seasons team, you need to grow up and realise you are not the little budget team you think you are anymore! 

Officiating, a subject I really really try hard not to get worked up about. Last night was, one of the worst displays of officiating I have seen in the Ice Dome. The  whole team too Referee and Linesman. Genuinely, rose tinted aside, I have never watched a game and thought, I have no idea what that call was! And that applied to Sheffield's penalty calls too! The result of this game was not wholly determined by the two teams on the ice but, the three teams on the ice! 

Anyhoo, that mini rant of my chest, I hold no grudges on Sheffield getting the two points. Im pleased Phoenix got one but, they should have taken both! 

Attendance: Around 900 in the Ice Dome 

Phoenix 2 Sheffield 3 after OT - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 2 Sheffield 3 after OT - Steeldogs Article

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Phoenix Rolling - 28th September Peterborough Phantoms

With the disappointment of a null point weekend the Phoenix went into last weekends games with the need to put some points on the board. While no league title campaign is over in the first month of play, a poor start can lead you to play catch up for the entire season. Weekends are always tough in the EPL, this season more so. Saturday saw the Phoenix make the short-ish trip to Coventry to take on the MK Lightning. The SkyDome and its big ice has caused Phoenix problems in the past and the current short bench would not make things any easier. Following the MK game Phoenix would return home to take on a vastly improved Phantoms side in Altrincham on the sunday. 

The MK game was a tough one but Phoenix proved their title credentials with a tough 4-1 victory. Controlling the game, at least on the scoreboard, the Phoenix were 2-0 up by the end of the second period. The lead enable to the Phoenix to simply match anything MK could do. By the final buzzer the Phoenix had ground out a superb victory. Especially as they were without Frankie Bakrlik and Jacob Corson-Heron, who had suffered a broken collar bone the night before in training! 

MK 1 - Phoenix 4 - Phoenix Article
MK 1 - Phoenix 4 - MK Article
MK 1 - Phoenix 4 - MK TV

Despite the short bench the Phoenix returned to the Ice Dome to take on the Phantoms in what would be another tough game. Phantoms were on a high after getting a win against Guildford the night before and would be no pushover's. 

Another sunny sunday greeted hockey fans as battle was about to commence to see who skated away with a 4 point weekend! 

First Period: The game began at a good pace with both the Phoenix and Phantoms feeling each other out in the early stages. It was clear to see the Phantoms are a different prospect this season, pleasingly for the home support, the Phoenix defence also looked much improved with Fone rarely facing testing shots. Encouragingly for the Phoenix they were getting Auzins to give up some juicy rebounds! Phoenix scored first when Tony Hand found James Archer on the right faceoff circle who fired a shot straight past Auzins to give the home side the lead, his goal coming at 3min 57sec. Phoenix continued the pressure and Psurny was unlucky to double the lead a few minutes later, when he broke through the Phantoms defence only to lose control of the puck at the vital moment. The 2nd goal for Phoenix did come in the end, and it was former Phantoms James Archer again who scored it. This time a reward for a great line goal, Hand found Psurny who then found James free in the slot to score past Auzins, that goal coming at 16min 57sec. As the buzzer went the first period ended with the home side ahead and, remarkably, not a penalty called! 

Second Period: The Phantoms had to open up to come into the game and began to create some good chances of their own. The Phantoms did pull a goal back just before the 25min mark when the deadly Lithuanian Supercalifragalistic Darius Pliskauskas was set free by Koulikov to score an excellent goal past Fone. The Phantoms opening their account at 24min 17sec. For much of the second period the game was played without incident, in fact, it wasn't until about the 36th minute before referee Tom Perring found the need of his whistle for a penalty. Worryingly right at the end of the period James Archer limped off with a bad looking injury. He had been in top form all night and, after crashing the net and going over with Auzins he stayed down. Being helped off the ice and putting no weight on his right leg at all. He would not return. 

Third Period: With the game very much still in the balance both sides kept up their play in the third period. The Phantoms imports proving to be a cut above those in the past overall, with Bebris showing what the Steeldogs have lost in some great speed. Phoenix had momentum in the third, beginning the final session and, with McGiffin going for a tripping penalty 3 minutes in the Phoenix had the advantage again. After cycling the puck to create some space the puck found James Neil on the blue line who step forward and unleash a cracking shot to the top shelf. His goal being the Phoenix 3rd coming at 44min 44sec. Phantoms would not be frozen out though and continued to press. With Burlin leaving the game with an injury, Kovar went onto D duties and was called for a hooking penalty in the last minute. With Auzins off the ice the Phantoms set up for the faceoff 6 on 4. A superb faceoff win Apelis, who fed the puck back to J Ferrara on the point, who unleashed a storming shot to the pack of Fone's net. The Phantoms second goal coming just 4 seconds into the powerplay! That's what you call efficiency! Phantoms tried to throw everything at the Phoenix in those last seconds but, the home side repelled everything and, when the final buzzer went, were toasting a fine 4 point weekend. 

Verdict: After the previous weekends null point weekend, it was important for the Phoenix to get back on track. The 4 points this weekend is just what was needed, although the injury list is not! Two bodies short going into the weekend, then, losing Archer and Burlin too, the Phoenix are looking severely short benched at the moment. Hopefully a week of rest & recovery will see some bodies back on the ice. The Phoenix continue to put alot of shots on opposition goaltenders, last sunday night saw Fone face 35 shots and Auzins 53!!! Just need to work on the accuracy now! 

Attendance: A good crowd in, i'll say 1,100 

Phoenix 3 - Phantoms 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 3 - Phantoms 2 - Phantoms Article

Phoenix TV:

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Phoenix Rolling 21st September - Sheffield Steeldogs

As we head further into September the world or EPL Ice Hockey gathers for another weekend of competitive hockey. Coming off their 3 point weekend prior, the Phoenix faced a tough test with games against the Bison, in Hampshire, and the visit of the Sheffield Steeldogs at home in Altrincham. Saturday's game versus the Basinstoke Bison would be a re-run of the EPL Playoff Final only 5 ish months ago, both teams considered contenders for the EPL title most seasons. Sheffield return to the Ice Dome hoping to emulate their last visit this season when they claimed the War of the Roses cup with a comprehensive victory. Phoenix would be much improved from that weekend but, the question is, how much better? 

The Phoenix took to the road saturday for their first visit to the Bison in what would surely be another addition to the great series of games both clubs enjoy. The Bison, like the Phoenix, tend to play a flowing fast paced kind of game so, they are always good ones to watch. It sounded like a cracker in Bisonland and, for a good run down of the game, read the club's match reports and, Mr Russell's run down of the game over at Banners on the Wall. 

Bison 3 Phoenix 2 - Phoenix

Bison 3 Phoenix 2 - Bison

Coming off the loss in Basingstoke the Phoenix faced the Steeldogs in Altrincham for the second time in a fortnight. Sheffield have been transformed this year, much of that transformation down to the addition of Jeff Legue. For many seasons the Steeldogs have had teamwork at their core but not much cutting edge to make a difference. Retaining Korhun and adding Legue, Sheffield now have that attacking bite which will see them win more games than ever this season. Another sunny sunday greeted both sets of supporters and, after a short delay to faceoff, we were underway. 

First Period: Having played the Steeldogs so recently the Phoenix knew what they were in for. A much better effort was needed and, they got the perfect start! Ben Wood had the puck in the Phoenix zone, who passed up the boards to Adam Walker who then found Robin Kovar in the middle who got a quick shot off on Sedlar and lit the lamp for the home side. The first goal of the game coming at 3min 16sec. The lead lasted just over a minute when Gibson profited from great teamwork to level the game at 4min 30sec. The wheels then fell off for the Phoenix when Jeff Legue scored to put the visitors ahead just 33sec later scoring at 5min 03sec. Phoenix fans were then left silent when Sheffield extended their lead before the 10min mark when Gibson scored his second of the game at 8min 36sec. The Phoenix needed to re-group and score the next goal. As play progressed a late hit on Corson-Heron in the Phoenix zone saw most players on the ice and fans in the stand up in arms and concentrating on that play. Only one player remained alert, Jack Watkins capitalised on the pass from Corson-Heron and remained alert, racing up the win, breaking in on Sedlar and slotting home. A delayed penalty goal timed at 9min 05sec. Despite scoring the Phoenix were still all at sea defensively and allowed Sheffield another goal. With the Steeldogs cycling the puck in the Phoenix zone, Legue picked up the puck and scored a lightning quick wrap around goal. Ryan moving too slowly across his crease to get there in time. Legue's goal timed at 13min 21sec. The Phoenix tried to tighten up on the defensive side of the puck but, the buzzer brought to a close an awful period for the home team. 

Second Period: The first intermission rollicking from Hand must have had an effect, a much improved Phoenix emerged for the second period. The Phoenix were dominant in the second session, Sheffield rarely leaving their own zone. The Phoenix pressed and pressed, heavily outshooting their visitors but came up against a hot goalie in Sedlar, his glove hand excelling. The Phoenix hit the pipework twice and outshot the visitors 19-6 in that period alone. Hockey can be a game of inches and luck, no better example of that than this second period! The Phoenix worked hard but, the perpetually poor powerplay would hurt the home side, the Phoenix had an extended 5 on 3 opportunity but could not find the net. 

Third Period: 20 minutes, more than enough time for the home side to get back into this game. I said on the podcast during the interval that the next goal would be key (ding). Phoenix get it and we could win, Sheffield get it and we were done. Well....I was half right! At 41min 32sec Boothroyd found Hand at the hashmarks and blasted a shot past Sedlar in goal. Excellent start to the final session for the Phoenix. The Phoenix went on the powerplay just past the halfway mark in the period and, while pressing the Sheffield goal, surrendered another turnover to....Legue! The last guy you'd want to give the puck to, Legue raced clear and scored past Ryan short handed, his goal at 52min 48sec. Done and dusted? Well, not quite yet! Just 17sec later the Phoenix got their powerplay working and Adam Walker reduced the arrears again to one goal. The home said laid seige to Sedlar's goal but, Sheffield are a damn hard team to break down. Entering the final minute the Phoenix finally gained the zone and pulled Ryan but, another turnover coughed up the puck to Korhon who scored the empty net goal at 59min 51sec, 

Verdict: Overall a poor poor loss for the Phoenix resulting in a null point weekend. Despite an improved showing in the second period the Phoenix defence continues to worry and turnover the puck too many times. This is an area of the ice the Phoenix need to work on alot and get sorted sooner rather than later. The shot count favours the Phoenix heavily but, credit must go to Sheffield. They are hard to break down and, in this game, had Sedlar in his best showing in the Ice Dome. For many seasons Sheffield have had a hard working gritty team with not enough up front to win games and close out opposition. In retaining Korhon and adding Legue, Sheffield now have the cutting edge in attack to win more games than before. I don't think Sheffield will contend for the league but, they will finish high up the table and threaten a Coventry appearance again! 

Attendance: Slightly down on the Swindon game, i'll guess at 1,000 in the Ice Dome. 

Phoenix 4 - Sheffield 6 - Phoenix
Phoenix 4 - Sheffield 6 - Steeldogs

Friday, 19 September 2014

Phoenix Rolling 14th Sep - Swindon Wildcats

Rosters signed, players arrived, pre-season done and dusted, not it's time for the 9 teams in the EPL to gear up and kick off their assault on the 2014/15 EPL Ice Hockey seasons. The Phoenix, as league champions, come into the season with a target on their back. A new EPL landscape has emerged, the usual suspects will be there or there abouts, your Phoenixes, Bison's, MK's, big spenders Guildford will challenge and, now joined by free spending Telford. This years EPL title will be one of the hardest to win! 

Phoenix opened their EPL campaign with a trip to the hive to take on the Bracknell Bees, consensus through last season seemed to be that the Bees struggled to score. Their summer recruiting does not look to have solved the problem and the game, saturday night, seemed to prove that theory. The Phoenix coming away with a 3-1 victory. 

Bees 1 - Phoenix 3 - Bees
Bees 1 - Phoenix 3 - Phoenix

For the first time in the league fans of the Phoenix and Wildcats arrived at the Altrincham Ice Dome to sunshine and warm temperatures, a bit strange when attending a hockey game! Wildcats came to the Ice Dome with some familiar faces in Lyle, Nell etc...but with some new blood too in Malasinski replacing the 'irreplaceable' Hoog. Time will tell! 

First Period: Phoenix burst to live from the off taking the puck to the Wildcats and, it was the home side who lit the lamp first. Some early pressure lead to a strong shot from Hand on net, which Lyle managed to get the most of, but not all! As the puck trickled behind him James Archer was on hand, driving the net, to roof the free puck. Scoring at 1min 13sec. Phoenix continued to take the fight to the Wildcats getting plenty of shots on Lyle but, finding Lyle more than equal. No other goals were scored but, former Phoenix captain Kenton Smith talked his way into a mis-conduct penalty after an offside decision. 

Second Period: While Swindon were edging back into the game the Phoenix continued to edge the play. The visitors were getting more success in moving Fone and creating chances, their forward getting their legs going and stretching the Phoenix defence. The home side would score again though, when Frankie Bakrlik took a couple of quick steps and firing off a shot to Lyle's surprise. The Phoenix second goal coming at 27min 37sec. Swindon kept at it though and, after a tangle in front of the Phoenix net. Robin Kovar was called for tripping putting the visitors on the powerplay. It was a great powerplay actually, really quick, stretching the Phoenix D pulling them out of place, and creating the opening for Malasinski to score at 38min 39sec. Swidnon ending the period in control. 

Third Period: It seemed like the Swindon goal at the end of the second spurred them on in the third. Just 31sec into the final session and the Wildcats had tied the game. Oliver Betteridge scoring at 40min 31sec. Phoenix could have let that moment overrun them but, they re-grouped and dug deep. Working hard to create chances and go toe to toe with the Wildcats the hard work was finally rewarded. After some good pressure in the Wildcats zone moving the visitors around the zone, Michal Psurny pounced on a loose puck and forced home the goal of Lyle's skate. Giving the Phoenix the lead at 42min 38sec. Swindon were coming into the game more and more as the Phoenix looked to tire. With tired leg's mistakes happen and a turnover in the Wildcats zone led to the puck finding Nell on their own blue line who raced away, deked Fone and roof the puck to tie the game once again, superb goal! Their 3rd timed at 54min 50sec. Both sides tried to find a winner but none came, sending the game into Overtime. 

Overtime: With more space available on the ice both teams played some intense end to end hockey. Both Lyle and Fone standing tall and repelling all that came against them. For the last 90sec the Phoenix did go on the powerplay but were not able to score a winner. 

Penalties: Swindon winning on penalty shots, scorers Kostal and Malasinski, Phoenix scorer Archer. 

Verdict: Which ever way you cut it it is disappointing to loose on penalty shots. Overall it was an even but very entertaining game, both teams have quality on the ice. The Phoenix had the first half of the game, Wildcats the second half. Overtime didn't really produce much and Penalty Shots are a lottery. What disappointed me about the Phoenix in the PS was, including Archer who scored, no one seemed to have full control of the puck going into the net. Swindon took theirs well, making Fone go post to post and then roofing it. So, disappointed to loose but, 3pts from 4 in the first league weekend? I'll take that! The Phoenix were much improved when compared to their WOTR loss to Sheffield the weekend before. They will be much improved again by the time the Steeldogs roll into town this sunday! 

Phoenix 3 Wildcats 4 APS - Phoenix

Phoeni 3 Wildcats 4 APS - Wildcats

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 7 The Final Pieces

The final pieces of the Phoenix, version 2014/15 are in place. The Phoenix announced their import defenceman and final Brit player to complete the roster in Swedish man Johan Burlin and Minators graduate Jarred Dickinson. 

Phoenix Press Release

Johan Burlin:  
The 25 year old Swede comes to the Phoenix having played last season with Fassa in the Italian league. Despite his young age Burlin has played across Europe gaining experience in Germany/Russia/Italy and, of course, Sweeden. At 6ft 3 Burlin is a big guy but, also a guy who can put up the points. In Germany and Italy he managed nearly a point every other game and slightly less in his time in his home country in Sweeden. He will be expected to ice alot of minutes in the EPL and help the younger Brit's on D with development. While he may not have the experience when compared to the guy he replaces, Burlin has age on his side and desire. 

Jarred Dickinson:  
The last player announced is Jarred Dickinson, a player not unfamiliar to Phoenix fans. Dickinson has been a Minators regular who is now making the step up to the EPL senior side. The 19 year old joins as one of the final pieces of the Phoenix forward line, he will not see lots of minutes per game but will be expected to contribute and work hard when he does ice. The step up to the EPL side comes as Jarred scored 30 points of 24 NIHL games last year. So good promise, he needs to work hard to deliver now!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Phoenix v Steeldogs War of the Roses 2014 is time.....time to properly dust off The Angry Budgie and get back into the swing of the EPIHL season 2014/15. The current EPL champions take to the ice with the majority of last seasons title winning side in tact which a few tweaks and additions. The annual War of the Roses clash marks the season start for the Phoenix, while the Steeldogs have already been in action with an extended pre-season featuring a visit to France and the Bradfield Brewery cup series against the Telford Tigers. 

Last season the Dogs came out top across the two legs winning the WOTR cup and the Phoenix went on to win the EPL title. Swings and roundabouts ey? ;) 

On a sunny afternoon in Altrincham, hockey fans from Manchester and Sheffield assembled at the Ice Dome once again to see in the start of Ice Hockey in Altrincham. Friendships renewed, seats taken up, it was time to concentrate on the ice and enjoy some hockey after a long summer! 

First Period: It is fairly obvious that, on paper, the Phoenix team is the stronger of the two squads but, in reality we all know the Dogs are a tough nut to crack. For his faults, which are numerous, Payette has his roster working very very hard, drilled well, and who are very much, a sum greater than the parts kind of team. The early stages of the first period were testament to this, the Phoenix dominated possession and chances but, could not put quality puck on net to test Sedlar. Sheffield working hard preventing this and, some obvious rust in the Phoenix forward play mean an early goal for the home side wasn't on the cards. So, in some ways, it was not to surprising the Steeldogs took the lead. Sheffield pounced on a neutral zone turnover to take the lead when Payette set up Jeff Legue for the Steeldogs first of the night, timed 11min 40sec. Sheffield continued to soak up the Phoenix pressure and look to counter on the break or any mistake. The home fans were silenced once again when Lubomir Korhon doubled the visitors lead at 15min 29sec. Phoenix trials on the powerplay were evident again when they struggled to make the extra skater pay, it was on one of these PP's that Sheffield forced a turnover and Legue raced away to score an excellent goal at 18min 03sec. That was a big goal, Sheffield were able to ride out the period and make it to the buzzer 3 goals to the good despite being outshot 2 to 1 by the Phoenix. 

Second Period: The Phoenix needed a good start to the second period and, they got it. 88 sec in and Michal Psurny was in the right place at the right time to score a rebound after Bakrlik had applied some pressure to the Phoenix net. The home side on the board the Phoenix looked to make a move on the Sheffield goal. With the Phoenix killing a powerplay the Steeldogs pressured the Phoenix zone picking up a delayed penalty, in the subsequent play Korhon got his second of the night at 25min 38sec restoring the Steeldogs 3 goal advantage. Sheffield extended their lead a few minutes later when Elliot scored the visitors 5th of the night at 35min exactly. The hill Phoenix were facing had now become a mountain! The Phoenix tried hard to force a way back into the game but, were huffing and puffing alot with little reward. A combination of rustyness and lack of cohesion the killer, combined with Sheffield's excellent D work meant the period ended with the Dogs firmly in control. Despite, again, being outshot by their hosts. 

Third Period: With the tie effectively over the third period saw a bit of edginess creep into the play. A fair few handbags were brought out but no out and out aggression spilled over....sadly! Sheffield were again on the defective for the most part with the Phoenix struggling to convert their numerous chances. In fact the period ended with the Phoenix outshooting the Dogs 20 to 4!!! The accuracy just wasn't there for the home side and, Sedlar was more than equal to the shots. One goal was scored and it was the Dogs who got it. With the Phoenix on the PP Kovar was caught on the blue line and, a cross ice pass was intercepted by Korhon who raced up ice and scored a fantastic breakaway goal at 47min 29sec topping off a great hatrick performance. Despite some last pressure from the Phoenix the Dogs ran out 6-1 winners on the night and 9-4 on aggregate retaining the WOTR trophy. 

Verdict: Absolutely no issues with the result for me. The Dogs longer pre-season told, they looked slicker, more up-to-speed than the Phoenix. The home side looked to have superior quality but, were so rusty in their play. In defence and especially in front of goal. Too many simple shots were just not making Sedlar work hard enough, the Phoenix were not moving him to create scoring chances. Of course, as a Phoenix fan, I would prefer we won a trophy that was on offer but, in the scheme of things WOTR does not give us league points. Plus, until we change our pre-season schedule, WOTR will always be difficult for the Phoenix to win. The new additions to the roster looked good, I was impressed with Chamberlain and Thompson. New import D Burlin looked impressive, a big guy who is not afraid to use his size. Worryingly he did not ice the 2nd and 3rd periods, hopefully it will not be a serious injury! Losing your import D after the 1st period did not help in this game at all! 

Attendance: A good crowd filled the Ice Dome, i'll guess at 1,200 in. 

War of the Roses 1st Leg, Sheffield and Manchester

War of the Roses 2nd Leg, Manchester and Sheffield