The Angry Budgie Live

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Phoenix Rolling 7th December Bracknell Bees

The Phoenix season continued with the men from Altrincham making the simple trip down to Swindon to take on the Wildcats saturday night. The weekend would be rounded off by the Phoenix welcoming the Bracknell Bees to the Ice Dome. The Wildcats are a tricky team to play, especially on their home ice. With Lyle in goal the Wildcats are an excellent defensive team, and with Hoog no returning for the start of the season, its been Aaron Nell and import forward Tomasz Malasinski leading the way. Although in recent weeks the Wildcats have 'done a Guildford' and re-signed Jonas Hoog as their 5th import. 

Wildcats 4 Phoenix 2 - Phoenix Article
Wildcats 4 Phoenix 2 - Wildcats Article

Phoenix were still without starting netminder Steve Fone and overall the game looked to have been quite even. Phoenix lost Bakrlik to a high stick penalty and it seemed to fall a part soon after. The Wildcats running our 4-2 victors. Check out this weeks Below Average Sports Cast as im sure, Swindon correspondent Scuttsy will fill us in on the game! 

Sunday night saw the Bees come to Altrincham, currently the Bracknell Bees sit at the foot of the EPIHL table through a combination of injuries and a number of important players leaving. Current Phoenix Shaun Thompson being one of them and influential, and top point scorer, player coach Lukas Smital out through injury. When you look at their roster and poinst so far, when you loose your top scorer, the rest of the roster is not putting up great numbers. So you can see why they are where they are in the table. Ivan Antonov and Radek Hubacek the only other players in double figures so far this season. 

The game would also see the debut for Gareth O'Flaherty, in Phoenix colours for the first time this season the Phoenix have Gareth on a two-way deal with the Coventry Blaze. Not icing for the Phoenix were Bobby Chamberlain and Jack Watkins. Off we went to the Ice Dome and, despite their league placing, I think the Bees now beat Guildford in the 'fancy bus' stakes! Perhaps the budget is being spent in the wrong place? 

First Period: In front of a big crowd, swelled by Groupon first timers, the teams took to the ice for the first puck drop. From the first whistle the Phoenix controlled the game and were on top. The home side would put up an impressive 23 shots in the first period alone. Despite sporading attacks by the Bees, it was no surprise when the home side took the lead. A Frankie Bakrlik shot was tipped infront of Mettam by Archer to give the Phoenix the lead at 4min 44sec on the powerplay. Archer has found himself a role sat in front of the net, especially on powerplays and, a good few of his recent goals have come this way. Phoenix continued to attach the Bees and a second goal came with just 12sec left on the clock. Again on the powerplay the Phoenix worked the puck around the boards back to Bakrlik on the point. With time to wind up, Bakrlik unleashed one of his monster slapshots which went through Mettam and into the net. Mettam got a glove hand to it but, the sheer power carried the puck into the net. 

Second Period: After going behind the Bees re-grouped and came out with a bit more effort in the second period. Getting a few more chances the Bees found Ryan in good form in the Phoenix net. With the Phoenix controlling possession it would be possible to catch Ryan cold but, the Phoenix netminder was up to the task. The next goal came for the home side at the half hour mark when Frankie Bakrlik got his second of the night at 29min 59sec from Neal and Kovar, Robin would get his reward for some hard work by getting on the score sheet himself with a goal, time at 36min 28sec, Bakrlik and Thompson with the helpers. The rest of the period settled down as the game looked to be out of Bracknell's reach at this point. 

Third Period: Phoenix began the third period in control and increased the margin when Kovar scored a very neat back post goal, his second of the night at 43min 28sec. As the period wore on the Phoenix were still creating chances and it was #Bootherscoringmachine would would increase the lead to 6 at 51min 59sec. Taking the puck in from the corner Boothroyd roofed the puck over Mettam for a superb solo goal. The game was killed off just 29 seconds later when Sir Toe Knee of Hand fired in the Phoenix 7th of the night at 52min 28sec. 

Verdict: With a big crowd in full of newbies it was important for the Phoenix to get the win. With a poor Bees side in opposition they did just that, an important two points, especially after loosing in Swindon the night before. Not a pretty win by any means but, the scoreline and some of the hits will impress the newbies, the rest of us knowing the result was more important. Difficult to see any other position than 9th for the Bees this season. Not much going on for them, with Smital off the ice. More surprising for me was seeing Towalski on the ice for the Bees, and being kept quiet. Towalski is a top top player, someone i'd love to see in Phoenix colours. 

Attendance: Big crowd in the Ice Dome, i'll gues at 1,850 

Phoenix 7 Bees 0 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 7 Bees 0 - Bees Article

Phoenix TV:

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Phoenix Rolling - 23rd November MK Lightning

As we near the end of November and, Christmas is peeking round the corner, the EPL season continues its relentless march. The weekend just gone saw the Phoenix make a return trip the face the Guildford Flames, before welcoming the MK Lightning to the Ice Dome for the first time this season. The Phoenix went south with the recent win against the Flames in their mind. Facing a tough test on the big Spectrum ice the Phoenix played well, by all accounts. But for a refereeing decision to turn the game. Despite a late come back by the Phoenix, the Manchester men fell short 4-3 as the Flames avenged their loss up in Altrincham the previous weekend. 

Flames 4 Phoenix 3 - Phoenix Article
Flames 4 Phoenix 3 - Flames Article

Sunday saw the visit of the MK Lightning, a team the Phoenix have always enjoyed playing and, on of the teams I look forward to seeing on Altrincham ice. The two sides have met only once before this season, down in Coventry before the refurbished Thunderdome had opened. That result saw the Phoenix fortunes on Coventry ice continue as they skated away with a 4-1 victory. Tonight would be different, MK now in their new home, and back to regular practicing would be a different proposition. 

First Period: The Phoenix opened the period on the front foot, pushing MK back into their zone and laying numerous pucks on Stephen Wall. Even so the Phoenix were struggling to create clear chances and, Wall was living up to his name. A quality keeper keeping the Phoenix at bay! MK soaked up the early pressure and took the lead just after the 6 minute mark. Lewis Hook pouncing on the puck and slotting past Fone to give the visitors the lead. About a minute later the Phoenix suffered a huge blow when, after a melee on the net a player appears to fall onto Fone's leg. After the bodies cleared Fone was left on his back and in pain, he had to be helped from the ice and Declan Ryan thrust into action. Ryan, and the Phoenix, did well to weather the initial storm from the Lightning as they sought to test out the Phoenix back-up netminder. Phoenix scored the next goal at 14min 59sec when Jack Watkins capped off a great third line move. After great work by Corson-Heron, Jack re-directed the puck through Wall to get the home side on the board. With neither team seizing the advantage no further goals came in the first period. 

Second Period: The second period summed up the game so far. A poor poor period with little hockey at all. The Phoenix were struggling to reach the levels seen previously against the Bison and Flames. MK not offering up much either, I was a little disappointed in them but, pleased that they seemed unable to click and take the game from the Phoenix. It is no surprise then, that no goals were scored in the second period. 

Third Period: Into the third period and the quality of hockey on show certainly did not improve. It was MK who edged out in front when Leigh Jamieson scored from infront of Ryan, giving MK the lead at 45min 34sec. The Phoenix set about rescuing the game and continued to pile on the pressure on Wall. Wall was putting up a great fight turning away everything until the period moved into its final stages. Robin Kovar levelling the game at 54min 02sec to much relief around the stands. In the last 5 minutes neither team could force the winner, so the game went to OT! 

Overtime/PS: The extra 5 minutes saw neither side score so, the game went to penalty shots. The first shootout in, what felt like, ages at the Ice Dome. Wall and Ryan would do battle. Some good attempts were made, some poor ones too! In the end it was Tony Hand who scored the decider, after almost losing control of the puck, the great one deceived Wall to hand Phoenix the advantage. Jamieson had to score, Ryan stood tall himself and denied him to hand the Phoenix the win. 

Verdict: Overall great to get the win, especially after losing Fone so early. But thats the beuty of having two strong goalies. You don't have the usual worry of a back up going in! Ryan had a very good game, shame the team in front didn't! Not a classic by any means, with both sides struggling to take the initiative. I hope the Phoenix return to better form soon! The Phoenix continue to outshoot opponents, putting 57 shots on Wall, while Ryan faced 31 shots. It seems accuracy is out main issue now! 

Attendance: An ok crowd at the Ice Dome, i'll guess at 1,000 in! 

Phoenix 3 MK 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 3 MK 2 - Lightning Article
Phoenix 3 MK 2 - Bolton News

Phoenix TV:

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Phoenix Rolling - Double Trouble 15/16 November

Better late than never with the hockey reviews hey? 
Last weekend saw the Phoenix in a cup/league home double header and, the sunday game, was also a Groupon night. Saturday the Phoenix took on the Solway Sharks at the Ice Dome which saw the return of Ian Bowie and Richie Bentham to the Ice Dome. Guildford Flames were then the visitors for sunday night in a league encounter which would offer the Phoenix the chance to build on their recent league turnaround. The visit of the Flames, in the Pyro Derby, would see yet another ex-Phoenix player make his first return to the Dome in Andy McKinnie. Flames, more and more, becoming the Phoenix B team! 

As there are two games to review I will dispense with the usual period by period review and give you the facts and an overview of each game. 

So, up first, the Cup Crossover competition, saturday night against the Solway Sharks: 

Period 1: 
Phoenix, 6.33 Psurny 
Sharks, 7.47 Fulton 
Phoenix, 8.19 Chamberlain 
Sharks, 8.41 Bowie 

Period 2: 
Phoenix, 20.23 Burlin 
Phoenix, 28.04 Watkins 
Phoenix, 31.46 Wood 
Phoenix, 36.40 Walker 

Period 3: 
Phoenix, 44.27 Chamberlain 
Phoenix DPG 45.06 Chamberlain 
Phoenix, 45.46 Dickinson 
Phoenix, 56.20 Psurny 

The Sharks came out and worked hard during the first period and the scoreline after the first 20 was representative of that. However, the next 40min there were no further surprises. The Phoenix controlled the game and ran up the score with the second and third lines getting some reward on the scoreboard for their efforts. So no major surprises in the game, it was good to see Richie Bentham again and, playing at NIHL level he did look a cut above his team-mates. Good luck to you Richie! 

Phoenix 10 Solway 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 10 Solway 2 - Solway Article

The second home game of the weekend saw the Flames come north to a packed Ice Dome (see panorama on my twitter feed) for another installment of the Pyro Derby. With Andy McKinnie moving south the, ex-Phoenix contingent now playing for Guildford now numbers 4, even so a warm welcome was offered and off we went! 

Period 1: 
Phoenix, 7.23 Psurny 

Period 2: 
Flames, 25.55 Huppe 
Phoenix, 27.57 Psurny 

Period 3: 
Phoenix, 47.39 Archer 
Flames, 49.13 Hemmings 
Flames, 49.23 Kvetan 
Phoenix, 58.40 Thompson 
Phoenix ENG, 59.59 Psurny 

This was another good performance from the Phoenix, they worked so hard closing Guildford down all over the ice. The Flames didn't have much of a plan B to counter it. It was great to see the efforts from the Bison game were being applied again and getting results. Michal Psurny was back in goal scoring form and also pleasing to see James Archer scoring after his long layoff. There were some worries when the Flames brought it back to 3-3 after two very very fortunate goals. So the relief on the ice and in the stands when Shaun Thompson got the 4th was incredible. The players and big crowd erupted! This is another game to watch on Phoenix TV no doubt about it! 

Phoenix 5 Guildford 3 - Phoenix Article

Phoenix 5 Guildford 3 - Flames Article

Phoenix TV:

Sorry for the truncated nature of this weeks post, hopefully normal service will be resumed next week!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Phoenix Rolling - 9th November Basingstoke Bison

The Phoenix were continuing to struggle in the league, coming into last weekend, I believe, the Phoenix were on a 6 game losing streak coming into the weekends action. A run simply not good enough for the current league champions and, a run, which lead to the Phoenix falling to 8th place in the EPL table. Saturday's away game to basement club Bracknell Bees would offer relief....right? 

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

Sadly not, despite dominating possession and shots, the Phoenix only registered one goal from around 45 shots. As Tony Hand mentions on the match report that, is simply not good enough! So the worry and rot continues, I must admit, this result saw me come down on the team hard. The home game against the Bison sunday looked bleak. With our current form we would get hammered? Against a tough hard working defence the Phoenix would need to sharpen up and sharpen up quick. 

Well.......the fight back has to begin somehwere......why not against the Bison? 

First Period: The Phoenix came out fighting at the start of the first period. They looked to be passing well and were pressing the Bison early on. The game took up the usual pattern when the Phoenix play the Bison (in Altrincham at least) where the home side retain much of the puck and take more of the shots but, struggle to score. The Bison were given some breakaway chances forcing Fone into some early highlight reel saves. It would be one of those breakaways that would give the Bison the lead. After soaking up some Phoenix pressure, the Bison forced the turnover, Wales found Karpov who raced free to beat Fone. Bison taking the lead at 11min 29sec. Around a minute later the Bison had the puck in the Phoenix net, only for referee Miller to washout (rightly) the goal. At this point things didn't look good for Phoenix. Bison were beginning to control the game and, the home side looked deflated. Soon after the Bison did score a good second goal to extend their lead. At 13min 45 Muzzy Wales extended the visitors advantage and, the home fans fell quiet. There were no futher goals in the first period and the wind looked to have been taken right from the Phoenix sails. A big intermission and turnaround was needed. 

Second Period: What ever coach Hand said in that locker room worked miracles. The Phoenix came out in the second period with such renewed determination and aggression. Check's were being finished, Bison players pressed as the Phoenix controlled the early stages once again. The pressure began to toll as the Bison ran into penalty trouble. With the man advantage the Phoenix PP unit went to work and, Robin Kovar got the home side on the board at 26min 53sec. Planting himself on the net, finally!!!! Kovar forced home a rebound to light the lamp. The Phoenix did it again less than 2 minutes later when, again on the PP, Frankie Bakrlik picked up the puck and unleashed a piledriver of a shot to the top corner, no stopping that one! The game levelled at 28min 25sec. The Bison managed to re-group after they returned to full strength and, with their first attack into the Phoenix zone, took the lead once more through Ciaran Long at 29min 57sec. In a franetic portion of the game the Phoenix regained parity when that 'Man from the Czech Republic' got his first goal on home ice since opening night. Michal Psurny on hand to score at 30min 46sec. The scoreline remained 3-3 throughout the remainder of the period as the buzzer sounded to bring to an end a great period of hockey. 

Third Period: As the third period began, Frankie Bakrlik took a suspicious high sticking penalty and the Phoenix went on the penalty kill. It was during the PK where Fone managed to make a save and push the puck out to Joe Graham who, sent the puck up ice to Tony Hand. Thanks to a slip by the Bison defenceman, Hand was in on Skinns on his own. With time to spare, Hand wound up and unleashed an unstoppable shot to give the Phoenix their first lead in the game. That shorthanded goal scored at 42min 17sec. This goal really lifted the Phoenix and the Bison were being put under severe pressure. The home side looked hungry, looked in control and, more importantly, looked lethal. The home side extended their lead a few minutes later when, Adam Walker was on hand to slot through Skinns 5-hole to score at 45min 50sec. The Phoenix scored two devastating goals just over a minute apart to close out the game. First, Michal Psurny scored his second of the night at 52min 10sec then, at 53min 23sec Ben Wood scored the highlight goal of the night. Pushed into forward positions due to Jacob's injury, Ben took the puck and broke inside to the hash marks, then pulled a lovely deke on Skinns to then roof the puck and send the home fans into raptures. A truly superb goal from one of the Phoenix unheralded players. With the clock winding down, the Phoenix found time for one more and, a hattrick goal for Michal Psurny. The Czech sniper was found free on goal by Tony Hand to round of a superb and much needed hatty, the final goal of the game coming at 57min 47sec. 

Verdict: A huge huge win for the Phoenix, not only in terms of the points. But for the performance and home fans too. Wins at the Ice Dome have been hard to come by in league action so far so, a win, a big win, and a win against a title rival was much needed! For me the game can be broken down quite easily: 
1st Period, Phoenix looked ok and improved over recent games. Pressing the Bison all over the ice but, did look to drop heads after the Bison took the lead. 
2nd Period, After being read the riot act the Phoenix came out determined in the second period. A bit wrecking ball the Bison were bludgeoned into submission and the Phoenix hauled themselves back into the game. 
3rd Period, Phoenix continued their efforts and, with more control (so less wrecking ball) coupled with the Bison losing their discipline, meant the Phoenix ran up the score for a deserved win. 

Attendance: A good crowd in the Dome, 1,000. 

Phoenix 8 Bison 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 8 Bison 3 - Bison Article

Phoenix TV:

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Phoenix Rolling - 30th October Peterborough Phantoms

Thursday night saw the Phoenix take to the ice for a league meeting with the Peterborough Phantoms, the last time these two teams met the Phoenix skated out 3-2 winners thanks to a MOM performance from James Archer. Going into the game the Phoenix were still struggling with form, especially on home ice and, were missing James Archer who was still out through injury. Thankfully Jacob Corson-Heron was out warming up and would take to the ice alleviating some of the injury worries across the Phoenix roster. 

Phantoms are sitting above the Phoenix in the league placings and are a whole different team to Phantoms teams of past season. They have much stronger depth and better goaltending. Both reasons for the great start to their league campaign. 

First Period: On a warm late October night the Ice Dome was blumin freezing! Lots of misted plexi glass and fog hanging over the ice, perfectly apt for a Halloween game! The Phantoms faced the Phoenix and the puck was dropped on a rare midweek game in Altrincham. It seemed like the midweek game and strange conditions had spooked the Phoenix as, from the off, they came out flat. There looked to be little drive from the home side, poor passing and turnovers. All of which lead to, un-surprisingly, a goal for the Phantoms. While on the powerplay the Phantoms worked the puck quickly around the zone to Bebris who slotted past Steve Fone, scoring at 1min 52sec. The goal did not spark anything in the home side as the Phoenix continued to toil and struggle. The Phantoms were comfortable defending their zone and moved with ease through centre ice into the Phoenix zone. The atmosphere was effectively killed after just 6 minutes when the Phantoms doubled their lead. Berbis getting his second at 6min 27sec. It was so strange sitting in the stands watching the Phoenix. After last sunday's excellent performance, this was a world away. Chalk and cheese, vice versa, ying/yang, many other phrases could be used! The misery was extended when Luke Ferrara got the Phantoms third at 16min 26sec. As a home fan, this was painful to watch. Just nothing has happening for the Phoenix, nothing at all. The gloom was lifted somewhat when Adam Walker was able to deflect a shot from Hand past Auzins to finally get the home side on the board. A deft little touch, it was well taken. A small chink of light in what was a dire first period! 

Second Period: After, what must have been a tense Phoenix locker room during the first interval, both teams emerged for the second period. Phoenix had a low base to improve from but still, mistakes were being made. The performance improved a little but, too many things were still off. Poor passing, poor powerplay, defensive turnovers all meant the Phoenix continued to struggle. The Phantoms, being 3-1 up just had to play the perfect road game, contain the opposition and luck to capitalist on any turnovers and breakouts. They did this perfectly and the second period ended scoreless. 

Third Period: So, one more period to go, two goals needed for the home side. Plenty of time right? There was a bit more urgency about the Phoenix play in the period but, even so, it was still a far cry from sunday night. Robin Kovar reduced the arrears to one goal early in the third period when he scored at 43min 30sec. The game became more competitive after the goal as the Phantoms looked to stiffel and resurgence from the home side. As the crowd slowly lifted following the goal the Phantoms were able to deflate them once again just past the half way mark of the period. Luke Ferrara getting his second of the game at 51min 15sec making the scores 4-2 Phantoms. With the game looking lost it was almost a surprise when the Phoenix hit back, Hand breaking up the wing, with Psurny in pursuit on the opposite wing. Hand unleashed a shot right through Auzins, lifting the Phoenix to within one again at 53min 13sec. Made all the more remarkable as it was a short handed goal too. Despite their being only one goal in the game, the Phoenix could not snap out of their poor play and, as the buzzer sounded, were consigned to another home defeat. 

Verdict: Cannot fault the result, if im brutally honest, I think the scoreline flattered us a little. Make no bones about it, the Phoenix were poor! Completely flat performance, awful static powerplay, I cannot single one player out unfortunatly. I think Fone was un-lucky to have been replaced during the first period as, the team infront were hardly helping! James Neil deserved his MOM as he, often looked our best player going forward! Bakrlik and Kovar still look to be struggling playing on the same line. Although today they did pass to each other a bit more! Psurny is still way off his form since arriving in Altrincham. Tony, well, he is still the best player this country has ever produced but, this was a terrible performance from him. Despite the goal, his passing was poor, and some decision making was baffling! Just terrible all round, if you hadn't guessed! Credit must go to Peterborough though, they played a great road game and deserved the win! 

For the Phoenix, November is now a huge huge month.Things need to change drastically, performances need to be strung together. If not, we are destined for mid-table mediocrity and a terrible title defence. We have the talent going forward and, two strong netminders, team defence is the key for me. It has to be improved massively and now! 

Attendance: A bit poor actually,, mid week games are never great, perhaps most fans knew the result already? Spooky indeed! I'll guess at around 800 in the Dome. 

Phoenix 3 Phantoms 4 - Phoenix Article

Phoenix 3 Phantoms 4 - Phantoms Article

Phoenix TV:

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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Phoenix Rolling Cup Special - 19th October Blackburn Hawks

Another weekend in the books, a mixed weekend for the Phoenix, both in terms of the fixtures themselves and the results! Saturday saw the Phoenix make their second trip down to Hampshire to face the Bison, before returning to the Ice Dome for the first Lancashire derby, when they took on the Blackburn Hawks at the Ice Dome. 

Saturday's trip to Bisonland was an EPL fixture and, saw the Phoenix edged out in another close encounter. This time coming home on the wrong side of a 7 goal thriller, losing to the Bison 4-3. Club match reports below and, if you fancy a fan take on things, head on over to Banners on the Wall. 

Bison 4 Phoenix 3 - Bison Article

Bison 4 Phoenix 3 - Phoenix Article

As for sunday nights game, this was a fixture I had been looking forward to ever since the details of the new Cup competition were announced. Reasons why? This dates back to my birth! My mum was physio for the original Trafford Metro's/Altrincham Aces back when the converted Ringway aircraft hangar used to sit on Devonshire Road. From birth I was taken to Metro's/Ace's games and as I grew, the derby games against the Hawks were some of the best games I saw growing up. Seeing the likes of Oleg Sinkov, Rick Ferra, Claud Dumas putting up ridiculous numbers will live long in my memory. Being around 9-10 or 11 when these games were on, I always remember the Ice Rink being packed, thinking wow, there are thousands in here, when it was probably only a few hundred. The old barn would be packed, awesome atmosphere. Those games against the Hawks will stay with me forever. So the arrival of the Hawks was something I had been looking forward to. 

Having said all that, it would still be an EPL team taking on a NIHL team but, Hawks were better than the Stars right? 

I will admit to knowing little about the Hawks current roster, which made the build up all the more exciting. A big crowd arrived at the Ice Dome, swelled by a good contingent of Hawks fans. The lights went out, teams arrived and we were ready to go! 

First Period: In front of a big crowd and an intense atmosphere the game got underway, right from the off the Phoenix made a mistake. I was not watching myself but, from others, Phoenix won the faceoff and the defence passed the puck back to Ryan in goal to give him an early touch. Trouble was, he wasn't expecting the pass, goal! After just 10sec the Hawks had the lead, with Jarred Owen credited as the scorers. This early goal for the Hawks ignited their fans and gave their players such a lift. The First ten minutes of this game were played at such a pace and intensity it was a true local derby. Despite the early set back the Phoenix tried to remain calm on the puck and absorb the early pressure coming from the Hawks. The home side got on the board thanks to Frankie Bakrlik scoring at 4min 34sec. The Phoenix were giving the Hawks some chances through their usual defensive turnovers but, the Phoenix continued to carry the greater goal threat. Phoenix extended their lead just 27 sec later when Robin Kovar got in on the scoring action at 5min 01sec. Not to be outdone the Hawks hit right back just 39sec later when Adam Brittle tied the game at 5min 40sec. On the re-start the Phoenix looked to have finally settled despite the pressure from the Hawks. The Phoenix were rotating through two lines in the early stages, even so, the players began to exert some control and look comfortable on the ice. Frankie Bakrlik put the home side ahead once more at 7min 32sec and then Jack Watkins capped some superb play to score through the 5-hole at 9min 50sec. Jack's goal capping a madcap first 10mins in this local derby, the Phoenix ahead 4-2. After the intense first 10mins the first period settled down and the intensity dropped off.  Fans in the stands were still having a great time but the game on the ice returned to an EPL team facing a NIHL team. Before the period close the Phoenix added one more goal, a hattrick goal for Bakrlik on the powerplay at 16min exactly. 

Second Period: The second session saw some of the stuffing nocked out of the Hawks as the home side ran riot in the second session. Jarred Dickinson was loving the extra ice time he was seeing and he owned the second period. Looking so comfortable on the puck Jarred extended the Phoenix lead at 22min 54sec then again at 24min 56sec. Two quick fire goals from the Phoenix sparked the Hawks into life and, their star player so far, Adam Brittle got another, the Hawks 3rd goal coming at 28min 55sec. Dickinson secured his hattrick just a minute later at 29min 52sec, and another goal followed in quick succession, Bakrlik getting his fourth at 30min 40sec. After the crazy first ten minutes the second half of the 2nd period calmed down but still saw two further goals. Kovar got his second of the game at 34min 25sec and Bobby Chamberlain got on the board with a powerplay goal at 38min 07sec. 

Third Period: With the game won the Phoenix eased off and this allowed the Hawks a little more freedom to play. The Hawks looked to have a little more stamina in the game than the Stars did and this allowed them to keep pressing the Phoenix. The Hawks hit two quick goals in the early stages of the final period, Adam Brittle sealing his hattrick at 43min 15sec and then Jarred Owen getting his second goal 12seconds later at 43min 27sec. No one believed the big comeback was on but, it did add a little edge to the remainder of the period! Despite the two quick goals the Phoenix scored once more at 44min 24sec when Chamberlain got his second of the night. The fans of both teams truly seeing a goal fest! After all that scoring the second half of the final period saw no further goals scored. 

Verdict: A big win in the first proper local derby in ages. Ok, so the result wasn't too surprising, the Phoenix were expected to win and, despite the scoreline, the Hawks offered more going forward than Billingham had. Perhaps the Stars had a better goaltender in Flavell which kept the score down. I was impressed with how the Hawks took on the game, they could have tried to limit the score but they came out flying and took the game to the Phoenix. Perhaps this also contributed to the scoreline. Stuart Ashton in the Hawks net looked to struggle, with the sheer power of shots coming his way, especially from Bakrlik, he struggled to stop them. Credit to the Hawks fans who were loud and proud throughout! Some stats/highlights from the period: 

Shots on Ashton (Hawks) 45, shots on Ryan (Phoenix) 23 
Bakrlik - 4 goals, sat out for third period 
Kovar - 2 gls 2 ass, sat out for third period 
Thompson - 5 assists 
Dickinson - 3gls 1 assists 

Dickinson got a deserved MOM for the home side in a real stand out game for the Phoenix! 

Attendance: Big crowd in the Dome 1,500 

Phoenix 12 Hawks 5 - Phoenix Article

Phoenix 12 Hawks 5 - Hawks Article

Phoenix TV:

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