The Angry Budgie Live

Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Phoenix Summer Rollercoaster - Glass Half Full

Ok, so yesterdays post was a glass half empty kind of deal. Let's get the sunnies out, enjoy the sunshine and fill that glass up. There be silver linings to those clouds! 

You will have seen on social media, in the days after the Stingrays went under a fan launched a kickstarter campaign to bring back hockey in Hull. Those efforts have seemingly been rewarded and, an ownership group lead by Shane Smith (of the Steeldogs) has stepped in to run an EPL team in Hull. Welcome the Hull Pirates! Out of this messy summer it looks like the EIHL and EPL will run with 10 teams each this coming season. This is great news for the guys in Hull, many fans I have got to know over the years they will make an EPL team a success I know it! As of writing the Pirates had announced their first signing in Sam Towner, GB under 20 international, Hull native and a player who had signed with the Stingrays for the coming season joins player coach Dominic Osman on the Pirates roster. 
Another brief titbit, Red Hockey continued their investment in British Ice Hockey by purchasing a 100% stake in the Deeside Dragons. The team who will share their ice with the Phoenix for the 15/16 season. Red Hockey's aims with the Dragons is to strengthen them and, possibly, work them up to becoming an EPL team. 

Finishing off this post, in a positive way, its time to talk about the Phoenix 15/16 squad which, despite the off-ice issues is being built a pace. It must be said that, every play who has signed and, talking to a player earlier in the summer. The prospect of playing a season in Deeside has not been an issue in signing on the dotted line at all. 
Anyway, onto the roster (correct as of 9th July) 

#31 Stephen Fone - A stalwart of the Phoenix now, a player icing his 7th season for the Phoenix between the pipes, Fone is established as one of the best goalies in the EPL. Despite his GAA increasing during last season, he actually had his best save % since going full time with the Phoenix. That leaky defence obviously letting through more shots! Having Declan Ryan as competition will have helped push Fone on during the season. I hope for 15/16 he can carry on his form and backstop the Phoenix to further success. 

#4 Luke Boothroyd - Captain Fantastic, #Bootherscoringmachine, just a few ways Phoenix fans like to describe their captain. Luke is returning for his 8th season in Phoenix colours, being named Captain for 6 of those seasons. Luke is one of the few EPL British players who could probably hold their own in the EIHL. A cool head, immensely strong despite his size, you notice his influence on the ice and off it. A freak off ice injury ended his 14/15 season early and you could see the Phoenix struggle on the ice without him. 14/15 will be a season he wants to forget, 15/16 should see the return of the captain we know and love. 
#5 Benjamin Russell - Ben comes to the Phoenix from three seasons with the MK Lightning and some junior hockey in North America. He seems to be excited to play in Manchester and, Tony Hand obviously sees promise in him so, I will be excited to see what he can bring to the Phoenix blue line. 
#12 James Neil - James Neil has been around forever it seems so, it is amazing to know he is still only 25! 15/16 will be his 7th season in Phoenix colours, a player who is loved by the Phoenix fans and a guy who always has time to talk to anyone about anything. Despite his small stature Neil is a damn hard worker on the ice and a very competent defenceman. He's one of those players you always expect to be there but, always miss when he is not. Another player on last seasons Phoenix roster who lost games to injury, hopefully 15/16 will be better on that front! 
#15 Ben Wood - 'Gino' has been playing hockey in the North West since 2002, now a 'veteran' of 27 and one of the Phoenix longest serving players, Ben returns to the Phoenix to ice his 8th season. Speaking to the guy off the ice, signing on for another year was  a no-brainer for be. Ben has worked his way up through the junior levels to establish himself as an ever reliable defenceman for the Phoenix. Possessing height, an awesome ability to hit the body and a wicked wrist shot Ben has been slowly proving his worth to the Phoenix. More of the same please Ben! 
#44 Mark Thomas - Mark is a stellar signing for the Phoenix the Stockport native returns to his roots in signing for the Phoenix for the new season. Starting his career with the Altrincham Tigers, rising up to ice for the Phoenix in the EIHL, Thomas has played much of his recent career over t'hills with the Sheffield Steelers. During his time winning the EIHL title and playoff trophies amongst others, Thomas brings a wealth of experience, skill and leadership to the Phoenix blue line. Thomas will be in the top line D pairing, possibly with an import D or, with Boothroyd would be my guess! Looking forward to seeing him in Phoenix colours. 

#2 James Archer - Currently filling his summer playing for Team GB in the inline hockey championships Arch returns to the Phoenix for his 6th season. Arch has usually filled the 2nd line winger spot and been very productive in that position. He works hard, is skillfull and has a good shot. When Michal Psurny's season was finished Arch did see some time on the top line with Tony Hand. Yet another player who lost games to injury im sure Archer will want to put 14/15 behind him and have a good new season. 
#62 Jacob Corson-Heron - He has only played a season and a half for the Phoenix, much of his 14/15 season was lost to injury but, in the games he did play. The Phoenix faithful saw his qualities and worth to the team. Despite his small stature, Croson-Heron has speed to burn and a complete disregard for his own safety! He is a player I didn't expect to see back this season so, am really happy he is coming back! 
#66 Robin Kovar - After hearing rumours about Kovar towards the end of his first season in Manchester, it will always surprise me when he signs on for another season in Manchester. Robin is hugely talented, ridiculously strong and all you want in an import forward. Possibly a little selfish at times but, you could argue, the best forwards often are! Over two full seasons with the Phoenix Robin has put up consistent numbers and with, perhaps, more of a staring role on the Ice (due to Tony's retirement) I expect Robin to have an excellent 15/16 season. Who needs Batman, we've got Robin........indeed! 
#TBC - Gareth O'Flaherty - A guy Phoenix fans are familiar with, despite the 15/16 season being his first offical season for the Phoenix. Gareth spent the 14/15 season on a three way deal with the Blaze EIHL and ENL teams and the Manchester Phoenix. He iced twice for the Phoenix and, I remember being impressed with him. He brings some new blood into the Phoenix locker room, im looking forward to how he plays this coming season. 

So that's the Phoenix summer so far, I hope it has been an interesting read. I know you will disagree with some or all of it, that's ok. Like I said, its just how I feel, I make no apologies for that! I hope to do a few more posts throughout the summer as the Phoenix roster becomes clearer and, hopefully, we get more clarity on the future of the Phoenix. All that's left to say is, enjoy the summer, enjoy your holidays, before you know it, it will be september already!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Phoenix Summer Rollercoaster - Glass Half Empty

Well, hello again everyone! I do apologise for the lack of updates on the blog so far. Its really been a combination of things since the end of the 14/15 EPL season. Mainly holidays, home life priorities, work and I just wanted a bit of time off after the season to un-plug and reset if that makes sense. This is a long post which im splitting in two to make it a little more palatable!
So, since the end of the 14/15 season.....have I missed much? Anything? 

I guess a few things have happened in the world of the Phoenix, in fact things started happening the saturday night of finals weekend! It's kind of been non stop since then. I think I put it out on twitter that I claimed film rights for the Phoenix summer story, it really has been worthy of a block buster. Controversy, back stabbing, claims and counter claims, homeless ness and finally a home from home. I will never claim to know the full details, how could I? But, i wanted, in this post at least, just to talk about what it's been like for this particular Phoenix fan since the final buzzer sounded in Coventry. 

I will preface what im about to say with, I am a Manchester Phoenix fan and, in my experience, do have trust in Neil Morris/Wayne Scholes and the Phoenix back room team. This is based on my experiences/dealings with the Phoenix as a fan since their birth in the Manchester Arena. I have heard stories about Neil Morris being a bit ruthless and not the easiest person to work with. Hey, how many successful business men are sweetness and light? Anyway, that's my disclaimer out the way, you can take what I say with a pinch of salt if you like....that's totally up to you! 

This is the summer so far.....................Angry Budgie style. 

The summer of 2015 for the Phoenix really began during finals weekend in Coventry last April. Going into the weekend the Phoenix had played all season with a short roster due to injury, Heading into that last weekend, in addition to injuries the Phoenix had also lost import forward Michal Psurny. A short bench, down an import, claiming the Playoff trophy would be one tough ask. Despite the odds being stacked against the Phoenix they won through their semi-final to take on the Phantoms in the EPL Playoff final. In a summer of bombshell's the first was dropped on the Phoenix not long after the final whistle went saturday night. A statement put on the Hockey Forum by someone connected to SilverBlades in Altrincham, words to the effect, that the Phoenix were being booted out of the Ice Dome. Whether you believe either side of the story, making the statement on a forum? That's bad form! 
So heading into the final, the Phoenix were tired, injured, short benched and now homeless, brilliant preparation. Despite all that the team performed as best they could, the Phoenix fans in full voice behind the team. In the end the Phantoms were just better! Koulikov, with a bit of a budget behind him, is an excellent coach and had turned the Phantoms into damn fine team. Hard working all over the ice and, in Auzins, have a fantastic base to build on to win games. I doff my cap to the Phantoms...well done! 

Im not going to bore you will all the details in the saga between the Phoenix/Red Hockey and SilverBlades, there are plenty of podcasts and statements out there concerning it. As a fan of the Phoenix its just frustrating, I know both sides are trying to win the PR war, that's only natural. Being a Phoenix fan of course I will have a bias to their side of the story. My argument would be, at least the Phoenix have stuck with making statements via their official website, and keeping them short and to the point. I do not like how SB have gone about arguing their side from behind a username on the Hockey Forum. That's not how you do business. 

Anyhoo, for the 15/16 season Phoenix will be playing out of Deeside while a new arena is built in the city centre, more than likely out by the Etihad stadium. There was, as you will have seen a few weeks ago, a big announcement due by the Phoenix, which was then delayed a day, then put out very late at night. The announcement confirming 15/16 in Deeside, 16/17 in an Arena in Manchester. Free buses being put on to transport fans out to Deeside. As I mentioned in my 'disclaimer' paragraph above, I do trust the Phoenix, in my interactions as a win with the club they have given me no reason not to. I must admit, that announcement left me a little flat. I had been lead to believe we had an 80% chance of starting the new season in Manchester. I kind of expected the move to Deeside but was still disappointed to have that confirmed. The aspect that disappointed me the most though, was the lack of clarity on the new rink in the announcement.  What would have softened the Deeside blow, would have been, yes ok were playing in Deeside but look, here are our plans of the new rink and construction will begin ..........etc.. 
Anyway, Deeside it is, I have renewed my season ticket and, at least for me, Deeside is not a strenuous journey to make. Plus, the rink does look good actually! 

The second bombshell of the summer happened about two weeks ago. It was confirmed one early morning that, due to a major sponsor pulling out and, the Hull council deciding to charge for ice time. The Hull Stingrays owned had liquidated the team, the Hull Stingrays were gone. While you could argue the writing was on the wall for a long time for Hull, it does not make up for losing your team. Blimey, I've been through that enough following Ice Hockey in Manchester! 
You may have already guess but, I don't hold I high opinion of SilverBlades...shock horror I know! The third bombshell of the summer followed just hours after the demise of the Stingrays. SilverBlades would be resurrecting the Manchester Storm to play out of the Ice Dome in the EIHL. An announcement that would piss off a huge group of hockey supporters in Manchester and, rub the Stingrays fans in the dirt. It was poorly timed by both SB and the EIHL. Given the first few signings of the Storm have been former Stingrays players, it seems more and more the EIHL have lifted the Stingrays franchise out of Hull and plonked it in Altrincham. Given my personal anger with SB over the way they have seemingly kicked the Phoenix out of the Ice Dome to have their own team I will wish them well. Manchester and the North West is/should be big enough to sustain two hockey teams. I have seen alot of infighting within the Phoenix fanbase and, old Storm supporters now appearing since the announcement. For me, it's not worth it, you cannot dictate to people how to spend their sporting ££'s. For me, I supported the Storm, I lost money when the Storm went bust, I am a Phoenix fan and, in the long run, the Phoenix will be so much better placed when the arena in the city opens up. Good luck to the Storm but, even though Altrincham is closer to where I live than Manchester and Deeside, I will not be attending your games. 

My other main frustration of the summer has been, the emergence of old Manchester Storm fans now appearing and declaring their love for the Storm. When the Storm arrived on the scene they were a big deal, playing out of the Nynex/MEN Arena the Storm would regularly attract crowds of 8-10k in the early days, I was one of them! However, as success died away and, the free tickets were not as freely given out, crowds fell and the club began to lose money. So, it was no surprise that, playing in front of 2-3k crowds in an Arena of 17k the Storm went bust. The question has been asked many many times, where did all those 17k plus fans go who watched the Storm tank Sheffield all those years ago? Many of those Storm fans at the end are the very same that went on to form FOMIH (Friends of Manchester Ice Hockey) who then set up the Phoenix. A big frustration for me is, SilverBlades cashing in on the history of the Storm when, the Storm (original) legacy is the Phoenix (current) history. The Phoenix came from the Storm, the new Storm (v2) have no link to that legacy despite their attempts to claim it. My second big frustration with all the 'rebirth' of the Storm is, on social media so many hockey fans coming out to declare their love for the Storm name and it rekindling their interest in Hockey in Manchester. My points would be:
  • Where were you in those last days of the Storm?
  • Suddenly declaring your interest in Hockey in Manchester, there has been hockey in Manchester for the past 12 years, the Manchester Phoenix.
  • Many of these fans never took to the Phoenix because of playing in Altrincham, why does having the Storm back now make hockey in Altrincham all ok?
  • Bear in mind, this is the same rink other fans have slated the Phoenix for playing in the past few years. It will have the same poor sightliness and malfunctioning toilets!

Reading all the above, you may call me bitter/deluded what ever you like. The point of this post was just to talk about how I (as a Phoenix fan) have been feeling this summer. Its not a perfect description of everything, it will be biased but, I just want to try and set out what I am feeling and why. Like I have said before, good luck to the Storm and, if you want to support them, please do! 

So, that's the glass half empty side of the post, come back for the glass half full post!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Phoenix Rolling - 22nd March Swindon Wildcats

Following the Phoenix excellent win against the Bees the season would be rounded off by the visit of the Swindon Wildcats. This season Swindon have been much improved in the EPL when compared to recent seasons. After the win the previous night, Phoenix had secured 6th place in the table and had nothing but pride riding on this game, for Swindon however, they were battling with the Phantoms for 4th or 5th place in the table. A win for them would see them above the Peterborough outfit so, this would be a competitive game. 

The game would also see the last groupon game of the season so, a large crowd swelled the stands as all rose to welcome a certain Tony Hand onto the ice for his last regular season game in his career. 

First Period: The game opened up with franetic pace, both teams forwards sharp and testing Fone and Lyle right from the opening puck drop. Phoenix took the early initiative firing two quick goals past Lyle. Frankie Bakrlik scored the first goal at 6min 46sec then Robin Kovar added a second at 7min 51sec. Kovar's effort was a fantastic one man effort. Feeding on a past from Archer Kovar took the puck down the ice, deked Lyle, then circled the net to score an excellent wrap around effort. One for the highlight reel! Fans across the EPL know, Swindon do have a talented team and, one of the best top lines in the league. It was that firepower that would shock the Phoenix and, in the space of about 2 and a half minutes would see the Wildcats surge ahead in the game. Malasinski got the Wildcats on the board at 14min 44sec before two superb goals from Aaron Nell. His first coming at 15min 29sec then, Phoenix gave him the freedom of the Ice Dome to get the Cats third at 17min 02sec. A real shock to the Phoenix system but a deserved lead for the Cats heading into the interval. 

Second Period: Ex Phoenix captain Kenton Smith took a slashing penalty early in the second period which sent out the Phoenix powerplay unit. After working the puck around the zone, good interplay between Frankie and Tony saw the puck passed to Adam Walker who scored close in on Lyle, levelling the scores at 25min 32sec. We all know Lyle is a superb netminder at this level, so, one of the best ways past him is to screen him or get in his face. Frankie Bakrlik gave the Phoenix the lead once more when he shot through a screen to score after 26min 59sec. The period continued with great end to end hockey and, the Wildcats kept in touch by scoring with just 6sec left on the clock, Bullas with the Cats goal. 

Third Period: With the scores level, the Wildcats needed just one point to secure 4th place. This meant the third period was played at a furious pace and the goals kept coming! Swindon took the lead at 47min 19sec when Loris Taylor took a speculative shot which deceived Steve Fone. The game had been played at such a high standard, the goals too, the Phoenix 5th goal was a highlight. Frankie Bakrlik found Robin Kovar who weaved his way through the Wildcats defence and took a quick wrist shot which beat Lyle, game tied once again at 51min 07sec. I dont think either set of fans would have minded had the game ended 5-5. One last sting in the tail though, in the dying minute, Burlin sent a long shot in on Lyle who coughed up a juicy rebound, Adam Walker, the lone man following it in pounced and lifted the rebound over Lyle into the roof of the night. Scoring the winner with just 26sec left on the clock. The Ice Dome erupted and the Wildcats defeated. 

Verdict: What a game, a real goalfest and 60 minutes of fast paced intense hockey. Swindon were unlucky not to leave with a point and, in doing so, were unable to take 4th place in the league. Phoenix did deserve some points from the game and, will feel justified in taking the win. The depleted bench performed admirably against a very good Cats side. The game winner being the icing on the cake! 

Attendance: Another big groupon crowd sunday night, i'll say 1,800 in the Ice Dome.

Phoenix 6 Swindon 5 - -Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Swindon 5 - Wildcats Article 

Phoenix TV:

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Phoenix Rolling - 21st March Bracknell Bees

Fresh from playing the Phoenix just 6 days earlier, the Bees came back to Altrincham on saturday night for their last visit to the Ice Dome. After a tough 5-4 victory, the Phoenix knew this game would be another tough one. The Bees are stacked with talented young players, turning them into an effective team will be next seasons priority. 

For the Phoenix, they were without Luke Boothroyd, Jacob Corson-Heron, Adam Walker, Joe Graham, and Michal Psurny. Possibly the shortest bench the Phoenix have ever iced at home. 

First Period: Bracknell were icing without a few of their more senior players and, this had a big effect on their play. There was still the pace and stickhandling but, the Bees did not have nearly the same level of craft in this game. The home team really dominated this first period, with the majority of shots (21 to 7) and the only goals of the period. The large crowd saw the Phoenix take the lead after just 2min 32sec when Kovar scored on the powerplay with Harvey Pitcher in the penalty box on a holding call. Tom Annetts was facing alot of rubber in the period and, the home side doubled their lead just a few minutes later at 5min 58sec. Shaun Thompson passed to Frankie Bakrlik who unleashed a bomb past Annetts give the Phoenix a 2-0 lead. 

Second Period: Bees upped their intensity in the second period and began to test Ryan in the Phoenix net. Phoenix scored the first goal of the period with a fantastic move from one end of the ice to the other. Robin Kovar found James Archer who raced clear down the near boards, who then crossed the puck to an unmarked Tony Hand who slotted home, goal timed at 29min 25sec. Bees hit back with their first goal of the game through Matt Foord scoring at 36min 19sec. As the period wound down the Phoenix would score another goal in the last minute through an unlikely source. Johan Burlin had the puck on the side boards, he threw the puck on nett through a sea of players and into the goal. His first goal on home ice sent the Phoenix fans delirious! Goal timed at 39min 06sec #IwastherewhenBurlinscored 

Third Period: The third period passed with little incident, but for a couple of goals to the home side. With little riding on the game the game did begin to wind down as both teams looked to avoid any serious injuries. Phoenix added their 5th goal of the game when Shaun Thompson scored against his old club at 49min 34sec. Remarkably a 6th goal followed just before the final buzzer. Hand passed to Kovar who slipped the puck to the hashmarks for #Burlinscoringmachine to score the Phoenix 6th with a pinpoint shot. That goal timed at 59min 33sec. 

Verdict: A strange game in a way, one that had the feel of a pre-season matchup. Bees did suffer for lacking some experienced heads in Spearing, Glazzi and Hubacek. The Phoenix were able to cope with their shortened bench and got the comfortable win. 

Attendance: I will say 1,200 in the Ice Dome. 

Phoenix 6 Bees 1 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Bees 1 - Bees Article

Phoenix TV: 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Phoenix Rolling - 15th March Bracknell Bees

Phoenix faced the Bees in Altrincham just a couple of days following their English Challenge Cup 1st leg defeat to the Telford Tigers. Since that game the big piece of news broke that. Red Hockey, owners of the Telford Tigers, had bought a 49% stake in the Bracknell Bees. It's great news for Bees fans, after much speculation throughout the season, this brings stability and longevity to the Bees. Much as I , and others, disagree with one owner owning more than one club. Wayne Scholes must be complemented for putting his money where his mouth is! Security for the Bees means a more stable EPL. 

Bees come to the Ice Dome for only their second visit of the season, which, is quickly followed by their third and last visit this coming weekend. Rooted to the foot of the table the Bees have struggled all season but, have claimed some scalps and, thanks to the Bees academy, have some genuine talent and future prospects! That stand-out prospect being Ivan Antonov. This is his first full season in the EPL and, the 17 year old has 39 points from 42 games, outstanding! Perhaps he has a future in Telford? Makes you wonder about the link up? 

Anyway, onto the game, despite the Phoenix struggles this season, a home game against the Bees should be seen as a win for the Phoenix. 

First Period: The puck dropped and off we went, it had been such a long time since the Phoenix last played the Bees, I though the Phoenix would win but I couldn't remember the matchup against the Bees. On the Ice the Bees were excellent, very quick, great passing between their players, perhaps just a little rusty and not polished enough to really capitalise on all their chances. Having said that, it was the Bees who lit the lamp first, just after the 10min mark the Bees swept up the Ice and the excellent Ivan Antonov scored past Ryan, the puck took ages to cross the line but they all count, goal timed at 10min 53sec. The Phoenix began to edge ahead in the game and control the puck, that effort and control was finally rewarded when Bobby Chamberlain scored at 16min 49sec. The goal given to Bobby after he banked the puck in off a Bees defender. 

Second Period: This period really was, to borrow cliche, a period of two halves! The Phoenix came out roaring in the first half, taking just 15 seconds Bakrlik and Kovar took the puck and, almost, buldozed their way to a goal. Frankie taking the puck up the ice to feed Kovar and give the Phoenix their first lead. The home team extended that lead less than three minutes later when Adam Walker tipped a Ben Wood shot to score the Phoenix third. The goal coming at 22min 51sec. Despite the Phoenix continuing to retain the puck, the Bees sharpened their wits and hit right back. Matt Towalski scored at 23min 58sec and then, just 36sec later Hubacek equalised and, 13sec after that Lukas Smital had given the away side the lead. A very disappointing end to the period where the Phoenix had gone from a position of strength to trailing the game. A big team talk needed in the intermission! 

Third Period: The Phoenix came out in the third with a purpose and, on the powerplay, they levelled the scores. With the Phoenix PP unit on the ice the puck found its way to Robin Kovar who scored, timed at 46min 34sec. The Bees then hit penalty trouble which really derailed their chances in the game. Waller picked up a 2 min boarding penalty, followed by Scott Spearing getting a 2+10 game misconduct for checking to the head plus an additional game misconduct resulting in him being thrown from the game. Lukas Smital was the next to lose his wrag, talking his way off the ice with a 10min misconduct penalty. Not the wisest of choices when you are the player coach. Jan Bendik then picked up a 2min hooking penalty. It was on this penalty that the Phoenix scored their 5th goal and took the lead. Frantisek Bakrlik unleashing a monster of a shot for the winner. The goal timed at 58min 91sec. Jan Bendik also picked up a 10min misconduct penalty at the same time. 

Verdict: A tight win for the Phoenix and one where they made the most of taking their chances. Not the best performance but they got the job done. The Bees were much improved and, they really do have some excellent young prospects. It was their discipline that cost them in the game. Having three players chucked out in one period, one being your play coach was not the best thing to do! 

Attendance: A good crowd in the Ice Dome, i'll guess at 1,300. 

Phoenix 5 Bracknell 4 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 5 Bracknell 4 - Bees Article

Phoenix TV:

Phoenix Rolling - 1st March Peterborough Phantoms

1st March!!!! Were in blummin March! When March arrives it really means one thing, the season is nearing its end! For the Phoenix it means the end is nigh for a frustrating season. A season which has seen next to no consistency, injuries, and the EPL improving where the Phoenix really stood still. Coupled with the Phoenix on-ice leader Tony Hand having a poor season, by his standards, 2014/15 will not be a vintage one in Altrincham. 

This season I have been frustrated and angry at times but, its season like this, where I like to take a step back and remember how the Storm went bust, how the Phoenix had to have a few seasons off and think, well, I can be thankful I have a team to watch this season! 

With that bit of melancholy out the way, there was the small matter of the Phantoms visit to the Ice Dome last sunday night. The Phantoms really have been a surprise package this season, certainly a vastly different roster this term and one that has had a bit of money thrown at it. Slava Koulikov must be praised for assembling and coaching the Phantoms to an improved EPL spot this year. 

First Period: A big crowd greeted both teams onto the ice for sunday nights encounter and the puck was dropped. This Phantoms team are much improved this year and, it was evident in the early stages of the first period. Fast and skillful the Phantoms looked the most likely to score first. That being said, the Phoenix were not out of it at all, working hard to deal with the Phantoms, the home side were able to regularly test Auzins in the Phantoms net but were not able to score. The end to end hockey continued all period but, neither side could take the lead. 

Second Period: Against the run of the play early in the second, the Phantoms did take the lead. McGiffin getting the Phantoms first at 21min 45sec. That lead was short lived when the home side levelled up less than a minute later, Adam Walker scoring the Phoenix first at 22min 41sec. Phantoms began to up their game after the Phoenix goal, they began to press the Phoenix and force turnovers and breakaways. The Phantoms then made the Phoenix crack and took a strangle hold on the game. They re-took the lead at 27min 05sec through Bebris, and follwed it up with a goal from Luke Ferrara at 31min 10sec and Darius Pliskauskas at 38min 41sec. A devastating 10min spell where the Phantoms lept to a 4-1 lead. 

Third Period: After the explosive second period for the Phantoms the third was a little more even. Although the game was really done in terms of where the two points were going the Phoenix did try to get back into the game and make the scoreline a little more favourable. They scored the first goal of the period at 53min 29sec through Chamberlain. This lifted the crowd a little as the deficit was cut to 2 but, that hope was quickly extinguished when Koulikov restored the three goal lead at 54min 11sec. As the game wound down the Phoenix would add one more consolation goal, through Frankie Bakrlik, the Phoenix 3rd goal coming at 58min 49sec. 

Verdict: Not great for the home fans really! The Phoenix, seemed only to compete for brief spells and were blown off the ice in the second period. With the season we are having, and having watched this Phantoms team, the result is no surprise. Phantoms were excellent, strength all over the ice, awesome speed at times and, Auzins has found his groove in the EPL it seems! One to forget for the Phoenix, lets move on and concentrate on the EPL cup! 

Attendance: Big crowd in the ice dome, ill guess at 1,200 in. 

Phoenix 3 Peterborough 5 - Phoenix Article

Phoenix TV:

Friday, 27 February 2015

Phoenix Rolling - 22nd February Guildford Flames

Last sunday saw the last home instalment of the #PyroDerby with the Guildford Flames arriving, albeit a little late, to the Ice Dome. Flames were coming into this game in second place and on a 7 game winning run. Phoenix, while playing better, were still not finding a consistent run. That being said, games between the two sides are always good fun and a great watch. So, after a slight delay, a large crowd took their seats to enjoy some hockey. 

First Period: Phoenix got off to a great start by controlling the game and keeping Hadfield under constant pressure. The Phoenix had a number of early chances through breakaway's. Frankie Bakrlik coming close early on when he was put through on goal. Then, after the 7min mark, Bakrlik was put through once again and, after the earlier sighter, made no mistake second time round. Slotting home a lovely goal, timed at 7min 33sec. Phoenix continued to dominate the period, the Flames were eking out their own chances but were finding Fone in top form. Despite the dominance the period would end with the scores level. After some good work by the Flames in the corner the puck found its way to the net with no-one reacting. It was Longstaff who reacted first and banked the puck in off Fone's skate to level the game. The Flames goal coming at 18min 42sec. 

Second Period: The Phoenix train kept rolling in the second piling more and more pressure on Hadfield and the Flames defence. Flames working hard to keep the Phoenix out and the Phoenix were limiting the clear chances for the Flames. The period would see only one goal, it came for the home side as the Phoenix took the lead once again. The Phoenix third line has been a highlight this second half of the season, their hard work and tenacity, perhaps, not getting their rewards when they should. The only goal of the period came for the third line, after some great work by Walker and Graham, Bobby Chamberlain capped off the move with the goal. Time at 33min 01sec. 

Third Period: Began close but, around the halfway mark in the period, the game exploded into life. Guildford levelled the game once again when Danny Meyers scored a superb powerplay goal at 51min 11sec to tie the game. That situation only lasted 50sec until the Phoenix re-took the lead. Bobby Chamberlain scored his second of the night with assists from Kovar and Thompson, goal coming at 51min 01sec. Another highlight reel goal followed from the Phoenix new scoring machine, Joe Graham. Joe has really improved over the year and, his new found confidence is showing. Graham scoring the Phoenix 4th goal at 54min 12sec. The late arrival and the blitz in the third period began to take their toll on the Flames as they began to tire. So, a 5th goal followed on the powerplay. Robin Kovar getting his name on the scoresheet at 57min 02sec. The period ended with the Phoenix domination underlined, outshooting the Flames 22-8 in the final session! 

Verdict: Superb performance from the Phoenix, dominating for the majority of the game against the second best team in the EPL. Its games and performances such as this that offer a glimpse of what this season could have been for the Phoenix. Tambo mentioned, off air on the podcast, that the Phoenix have lost 65ish games to injury, that's an incredible stat! Still, going into the playoffs and, the Cup final against Telford, the Phoenix is rising! Performances are improving and, Captain Boothroyd is edging closer to a return to the ice. 

Attendance: Big crowd in the ice dome for a top game, 1,200 in. 

Phoenix 5 Guildford 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 5 Guildford 2 - Flames Article
Phoenix 5 Guildford 2 - Get Surrey

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