The Angry Budgie Live

Friday, 8 August 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 6 Shirt Launch and a few surprises!

The annual trip to the Cresta Court hotel in Altrincham saw the Phoenix release their new shirts for the 14/15 campaign. The event also gave the club the opportunity to announce two player signings at the same time. So, we have new League home/away shirts, Cup home/away shirts and a new warm up shirt. I like the league and warm up shirts, as they show a return to a more simple design than we have been used to from the Phoenix. The cup shirts are a bit more 'out there'. I have never considered buying a cup shirt and......I still wont get one! The home cup shirt is not good, the away is passable as the black drowns out the purple tyre mark!! For me, it'll be either the home or away league shirt again. For the first time in ages I do like the home shirt but, I do like the black/blue we now use for the away shirt alot! Again, it will depend on how they look in person. As for the player announcements, two big surprises! 

Phoenix Press Release

Shaun Thompson: 
Being based up north the Phoenix can suffer in trying to tempt southern based players to sign for up here. Thompson is a player I have admired from afar and, was genuinely surprised when his name was read out and he walked past me! Having played the past few seasons with the Bees, Thompson has always stood out as a star on that roster. So, to capture him and bring him north is a big coup for the Phoenix. Scoring at over a point per game for the Bees, going onto the Phoenix 1st or 2nd line I expect Thompson to have one of his best seasons in his career. I can also see his arrival lifting the other Brit forwards and improving the team as a whole! Welcome to Manchester Shaun! 

Joe Graham:  
This was a name Phoenix fans did not expect to return for the Phoenix. I will be honest, I was one of the Phoenix fans who thought we could improve on Joe. But, he is back for another season and, more importantly, Tony Hand saw enough in him to bring him back! His first half of the season saw him struggle and probably tarnish his overall year but, he did improve in the second half of the season. It is that improvement that Tony saw and warranted another contract. He has the tools to become a solid D man in the EPL, I just hope he irons out the odd silly mistake or dumb play that blighted his 13/14 season. The potential is there and, with Tony taking more of a back seat this year, Joe will benefit from having the extra push from him behind the bench. So, happy to see you back Joe, now go out there and prove the doubters wrong! Including me!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 5 One they wanted, One they expected!

Sorry everyone, I must apologise over how long it is taking me to get these post's online. Real life has been in the way over the past few weeks, The Angry Budgie has just been so busy. It has now quietened down a little so I can finally get round to catching up on Phoenix news! Today's post is a good un, it sees the news that one of the Phoenix most productive players has returned for another season! As the title says, this post is one they wanted and one they expected! 

Phoenix Press Release

Michal Psurny: 
First, the one they wanted! If you spoke to any Phoenix fan at the end of the season, the first name most would have wanted back was, that man from Czech Republic...Michal Psurny. Michal had a fantastic year with the Phoenix during 13/14, easily his best in his career scoring 104 points. In his two seasons with the Phoenix Michael has now one the playoff trophy and a league title. Anchoring the top line alongside Tony Hand and James Archer Psurny had the space and time to do what he does best, snipe opposition goals. One of the most talented players to pull on a Phoenix jersey, Psurny has toughness and excellent stick handling skills. A firm fan favourite, not just because of his goals but, his personality and temperament too. A thoroughly nice bloke! Phoenix fans wanted him back, some were worried after Bakrlik and Kovar were announced, thinking 'we never retain so many imports' so news of his return was greeted with joy. With the prospect of Tony Hand scaling back on the number of games he will play this season, Psurny's skill is needed now more than ever. If theres one player who can step it up and produce when needed, it's Psurny! All together now..........Who's that man from Czech Republic........ 

James Neil:
Saying, one they expected, in relation to James Neil sounds like a slight against him as a player. It is not meant that way at all! Entering his 6th season in Manchester James Neil is a player who forms the solid foundations of a good team. 13/14 was another good year for James, he will never pull up trees or light up the ice but, in his defencive role, he is not required to. James goes about his job, on the ice, in a quiet understated way. Off the ice, he is different! Another fan favourite, a player who always makes time to talk to anyone and who really get's along with the fans at off ice events. He could be considered a 'face of the franchise' kind of guy! It takes many parts to build a successful team, James Neil is a very important part of the Phoenix machine!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 4 Young Guns Return

The Phoenix continue their re-build by added two of the EPL's promising young players in Jack Watkins and Jacob Corson-Heron. Both guys who had quiet years for the Phoenix last season but, improved over the course of the season. Mainly playing on the third line Jack and Jacob worked hard with each shift they got and, towards the end of the season, saw increased ice time as a result. Every team needs young British talent on the roster, those youngsters will always play on the 2nd or 3rd lines. Jack and Jacob's return is another part of last seasons championship winning team locked up. 

Phoenix Press Release

Jacob Corson-Heron 
Jacob spent the early part of the season on the bench or seeing little ice time. Being a small player he did find life in the EPL a little tough this past season but, as the season passed, so did his confidence, performance and ice time. While Jacob only scored 3 points for his season, the majority of the fan base were happy with him. His performances in the title run in and the playoffs sold many fans on Jacob. He is a very quick winger, willing to get stuck in on plays with much bigger opposition, sometimes without reward. But, that is the type of play that fans and coaches see, Tony must have been pleased to sign him up for another season! 

Jack Watkins 
Jack came to the Phoenix to play games and play with Tony Hand. After a few years in the EIHL with Dundee/Hull and a few games for Coventry. Jack returned to the league he last saw in 2010/11 when he iced for the Telford Tigers. Jack has a similar game to Jacob but there is a bit more to him. A bigger guy Jack seemed to handle the rough and tumble of the EPL better than Jacob to begin with. Finishing with 7gls and 8asst Jack played on the Phoenix 3rd line and worked well with the other guys. A fan favourite and well liked amongst the Phoenix roster his return is another good addition to the squad.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 3 Boots 'n' Arch

The champion Manchester Phoenix roster rebuild continues apace with the return of two Phoenix favourites and stalwarts captain Luke Boothroyd and assistant James Archer. Both players, Boothroyd especially, could have made the step up to EIHL level. But with the EIHL, seemingly crazy decision to, increase the number of import slots, chances for young Brit's are becoming limited. Anyway, their loss is our gain right? 

Phoenix Press Release

James Archer: 
Every club in the EPL will have players who have stuck around and become part of the furniture. James Archer is one of those players for the Manchester Phoenix. The season just gone was James 4th in the Phoenix colours picking up his 3rd major trophy. Of those 4 years he has worn the 'A' for three of them. James is a quality player who works hard and gives you points from the wing on the second line. He takes his responsibilities seriously and works so so well with Boots being the C and A in tandem. This past title winning season has seen Arch play some fantastic hockey and play the full tally of 54 games in the league. His first time doing so for the Phoenix! His tally of 53 points is down on the previous season but still working out at around a point per game. Archer returning is a solid bit of business for the Phoenix, and for the coming season im sure he will be wearing the 'A' again! My hope for the 14/15 season, for Arch to improve on his PPG! 

Luke Boothroyd: 
Captain fantastic, #Bootherscoringmachine, Luke Boothroyd returns to the Phoenix for his 7th season! Incredible! Having worn the captain's armband for the previous 5 im sure Boother will, once again, captain this team. Boother lead the team to their second league championship this season just gone and, almost, improved on his point production. Boothroyd is a calm and solid player, ideal for your captain, he has a great hockey brain, is tough to move off the puck and very rarely riled! When ever you see Boots drop the gloves, you know someone is in for some pain! Luke is a great guy to talk to off the ice and a guy you would be happy leading the team for as long as he can. Phoenix have retired one number in their history, will retire the no.9 when it happens. Im sure, when the time comes, no.4 will hang from the Ice Dome rafters! My hope for the 14/15 season? More of the same please Boots!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 2 Fone & Ryan

The Phoenix have done well, so far, with their player announcements with most catching many people off guard. The latest announcement has done it once again! 

Phoenix Press Release

The Phoenix welcome Steve Fone back for his 6th year with the Manchester Phoenix, the 2-time title winning goaltender will be back between the pipes to help the Phoenix retain their EPL crown. Joining him and, a bit of a shock, will be ex Tigers stopper Declan Ryan. Ryan, a local lad, is returning to his hometown club after 4 seasons in Shropshire. An awesome goaltending duo! 

Steve Fone 
The 2013/14 vintage Steve Fone was a return to form and excellent performances. It feels like Fone has been around the Phoenix for ages and, is easy to forget he is only 26! Last season saw Fone win his third major title with the Phoenix, his second league championship. Only missing one game Fone posted a GAA of just 2.8, which is 0.05 off his best in the EPIL of 2.75 recorded in the 2010-11 season when the Phoenix won their first EPL title. The GAA only bettered, on the last day of the season, by Stevie Lyle. Fone has recovered from his shoulder injury and, is more or less, back to his best. Fone is one of the best goaltenders in the EPL and it is important that the Phoenix can keep a hold of him for many years to come. 

Declan Ryan 
I am a big big big fan of this guy! One of, if not the main, reason why the Tigers had a chance to win games (prior to their new money). Ryan has helped the Tigers through their return to EPL hockey and become a firm fan favourite in Shropshire. He would single handily stand on his head in games in the Ice Dome and frustrate the Phoenix no end. So, to hear he had signed for his hometown team, many of us Phoenix fans are deliriously happy! Ryan is only 21 and, his 2013/14 season was his best in the EPL with just 3.35 goals scored against. He may be in the back-up position but, I think we will see Ryan play a good proportion of games and push Fone for starts. He will also relish the opportunity to learn from Fone. You never know, Ryan may become the Phoenix no.1 given time! 

The Phoenix rebuild continues apace and keeps surprising us with each announcement!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 2 Frankie & Adam

After the Phoenix had shocked most of the fanbase by announcing Kovar's return to the Phoenix, the anticipation for the next big player announcement was huge. Who would it be? Another import? One or two players? An obvious returnee? Well, the Phoenix did it once again, another shock delivered with the news that Frantisek Bakrlim would be returning for his second season with the Phoenix and.....the return of a former Phoenix player Adam Walker. Two more shocks, but good ones it has to be said! 

Phoenix Press Release
Frantisek Bakrlik
The announcement that Bakrlik was returning did surprise quite a lot of people, there was much talk that he would follow Koulikov to the Peterborough Phantoms or even, possibly, Europe. But, the man with an epic slapshot and some of the best hands in the business was coming back to Altrincham. Frankie missed a few games last season and, had he played the full 54, would easily have had his best season of his career. I have been very impressed with Frankie after his first season so am looking forward to what he can do next season. In terms of the Phoenix, it's another big returnee and another solid player in the Phoenix roster build. 

Adam Walker
Adam is a player familiar to those Phoenix fans who first started following the team in the EIHL. After one season in the EPL with the Phoenix, where he put up the most points, by a country mile, in his career he left to continue his dream of playing in the EIHL. Signing for a club closer to home in the Braehead Clan. Over his three seasons in Scotland Adam continued his production at a similar level to that seen in Altrincham with the Phoenix. After three seasons Adam returned to the EPL and joined the, newly moneyed, Telford Tigers. Back in the EPL his scoring got going again and he ended the season scoring just over a point per game. 

Frankie coming back was a surprise, Walker even more so. We know what we are getting in Bakrlik and, if put on either the first or second lines with Tony or Robin on centre Bakrlik will terrorise defence and score a truck load of points again this coming season. Walker, his return is even more surprising but, talk is of the Phoenix being a better fit for his off the ice interests. Like Frankie, if paired with a top centreman Adam will be one of the top forwards in the EPL. 

Welcome home gentlemen!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 1 - Robin Kovar

Yup, one of the more surprising bits of Phoenix news is, Robin Kovar will return for a second season with the Phoenix in the defense of their EPL crown. 

Phoenix Press Release
Elite Prospects Link
Those of you familiar with the Phoenix or remember various updates on twitter/the podcast will be surprised at this as, if it is to be believed, during the season Robin stormed off the ice saying he would never play in the EPL again due to the officials. Many people took that as a sign he was not coming back but, again if you believe other things people heard, after the playoff final, as the players were getting on the coach to head home, he said he would be back! Now having watched Phoenix TV it looks like Kovar was on a 2 year contract anyway....well..the Phoenix kept that one quiet!

Either way, the big man is back and 'who needs batman?' ey? 

With the return of Robin let's have a look back at his 2013/14 season and then look ahead to the season ahead. 

Kovar came to the Phoenix from HC Slovan Ustecti Lvi in the Czech 2nd tier scoring at just below a point per game. 6ft 1 he fitted in as the centreman on the Phoenix second line often combining with Bakrlik, Bentham and McKinnie plus Archer at times. His debut season in Manchester saw him put up the best numbers of his career and saw him make the EPL 2nd line of the year. In 58 games in all competitions Robin scored 41 goals in a total of 86 points, his best season in his career so far. In fact, thanks to @EPIHLStats for this nugget, Robin was one of only two players (Psurny being the other) to score 3+ goals against every opposition team last season. A bit of a selfish player Robin could be nigh on impossible to move off the puck. Immense strength and some great puck handling meant he could take on opposition lines all by himself. He is also a player who will stick up for himself and his team-mates, always willing to drop the gloves and, perhaps, indulge in a little of the skullduggery that happens in the EPL. 

Looking ahead to the new season, I expect more of the same from Robin, perhaps a little wiser too with regards the officiating. He now knows what the league is like so will be able to reign in his temper or, play the game with better fines letting his skill speak for him. He is good enough for the first line but, that position will be dependent on Hand icing another season. If Hand does ice, Kovar will again center the second line. In truth though, with Kovar on the 2nd line the gap between the top two lines is very small. He will score loads of goals and, his linemates will benefit from his skill and vision. I think he will have better season second time round, which is scary for the rest of the EPL! 

Rounding off the blog I will finish with some of the Choirboys best thoughts......'Who needs Batman....we have Robin!'

Phoenix TV: