The Angry Budgie Live

Thursday, 30 October 2008

The season so far.........part 2!

This post kind of follows up on my thoughts of the team so far this season; and wanted to give my opinion on a couple more things.

My first thought is a follow on from last season, and the first full season we had in our finished rink. Now I love our Dome, yes the sight lines are rubbish, but its our home and I love it! Its got character, quirks and so many little things that make it more of a home than any arena would. Which is why it frustrates me to read fans of arena teams come here and moan! Look you knew what you were coming too, there have been endless posts on forums around the league that our rink, and Cardiff’s for that matter, don’t have great sight lines. Its easy to get round it, stand up or watch TV, just don’t say you didn’t expect it!
Still, I wouldn’t swap the Dome for an arena anytime! I have been to Schuff when the shed has been half full, such a poor atmosphere. Plus in the last days of the Storm/First Phoenix season, imagine 1500 people in an arena that can seat 17,245, you can imagine that atmosphere! No the Dome is great for us, we can create an awesome atmosphere in that place, 2,500 fans in a small/compact tin rink its fantastic!

My second thought for this post, and I hope the Phoenix can maintain their current form and finish high up the table, is this could be a season when the fans of the ‘big’ teams finally realise there are other teams in this league.
The reasoning behind that thought comes from our resent wins against Schuff and Nottingham. Immediately after our win against Schuff I remember going on Steeltalk and reading the reaction cross the pennies. Not one comment acknowledging the fact that the Phoenix were the better team and deserved to win! Fast forward to the win against Nottingham in the NIC, I was so pleased to read the Panther fans admitting the Phoenix were, on that occasion, better than them! I think it may need a good season, with a good finish, to convince these fans that there are teams outside their arenas!

Im sorry if that last though annoys some of you, but I have to admit to feeling closer to the likes of Basingstoke/Hull/Edinburgh etc.. as I always feel that because we don’t play out of an arena, we are not good enough!

p.s. Crikey just read that Ed (Big Nose) Courtney is back in the Elite League after singing for Newcastle! Will be good to see him on the ice again, I just hope hes not slowed down too much!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The season so far.........part 1!

Right so back to one of my original posts that I wanted to kick off my blog with, but along the way I got distracted by a few things! Namely the troubles over the weekend with the Bison/Caps and the whole ridiculous media driven witch hunt against Mr Ross and Mr Brand! (though im not condoning what they did!)

So here we go, we are a fair few games into this season and ive decided to offer my thoughts on the Phoenix so far this season!

Over the summer I was pleased to see the league introduce a rule that allowed the lower placed teams of the 0708 season an extra import slot on the team. As a fan of a recipient team of that particular rule I was excited to see what effect this would have on the Phoenix. I certainly didn’t think it would result in our club being in the top half of the table!!

This particular rule has a great future for clubs in this league, by allowing the so-called ‘lesser’ clubs an extra import; theoretically, they can sign an improved roster. Improved roster = better results = more bums on seats = more money in the bank = longer-term survival. That theory however has only kind of worked for the Phoenix (as it stands right now). We have a strong squad, crowds are up and we are playing well and winning games. We are, in a way, unique in the league in the way we have taken advantage of this rule. The main two reasons we are doing as well as we are, I think, are:

Firstly, sign a British nettie. I have to be honest when we signed ‘Smurf’ I was a little worried. The one position I thought should always be filled by an import was the goalie. However a couple of games in and I stand corrected! Smurf is an excellent goalie and so long as our D looks after him, he is as good as most other goalie in the league!

Secondly having Tony Hand as player/coach, He is import quality and having him as coach means his wages don’t count towards the salary cap. This works great for the Phoenix as any money set aside for his place in the roster can be spread across the rest of the team.

Thirdly (and I know its not as a result of the 11 import rule, but It all adds up) the quality of our Brits is the highest its ever been, I was so happy that Adam resigned and we captured Boothroyd too! Our Brits really have helped to create strong three line hockey at the Phoenix. Something we have not had before, and something which means we are in the top half of the table!

Right onto the team, this is by far the most hard working and skillful team we have seen at the Phoenix. Over the summer I was worried, as Tallari left, as Basiuk left, after Mangos was not resigned I really started to wonder how well we could do this season. However I should not have doubted Tony at all!

So far Smurf has exceeded my expectations, and with a full season of Elite hockey behind him I fully believe he will become a great netminder. Not sure what to think on Adam, while I have no doubts he is an excellent goalie, I wonder where/when he will get ice time. It’s a catch 22, I want him to get ice time, but I worry if he were to go in net for us that he may concede a lot of goals. But if he is to become an elite nettie he has to start somewhere!
The defence is way better than the 0708 D. Not many walk about so far this season, and good contributions to attacking play whilst also looking after Smurf. There has only been a couple of occasions (mainly v Nottingham) when our D has gone away and left Smurf exposed. Hopefully with time these instances will get worked on and go away!

Our forwards, well as mentioned I was sad Tallari left, but in comes David Beauregard and everyone is saying………Tallari who? This guy is immense, everyone will be familiar with his situation but the way he plays/works/fights and by all accounts is a thoroughly nice bloke he could be the best player to pull on a Phoenix shirt! Ably assisted by the evergreen Tony Hand our top line is a dream. Our second line is not much further behind, after a slight hiccup…..Grant who?…..the second line has picked up from the hard working until of 0708 to add skill and goals for this season! Brett has carried on and got better, and now we have Burnett who, if his debut goal for the Phoenix is anything to go by, will turn out to be an excellent signing. Finally our third line, This is where the biggest improvement has been, having a quality 3rd line has, and in Bretts MEN column has stated, gives the top two lines more rest and a chance to recharge. This will ultimately decide where we finish in the league table this time around!

So I do hope ive not bored you to death with that one, but that is pretty much what I think of the team so far this year!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Elite League Money Problems.....

Right, I was intending to post the first of my thoughts on the Phoenix season so far tonight, but reading the local paper and events over the weekend have prompted a change, so what follows is my take on the troubles at the Bison and Caps along with my idea of a solution!

So this post concerns the recent developments at the Bison and the Caps. It seems as though both teams, despite encountering financial difficulties, should make it to the end of the season. But the main thing that worries me is…what happens then?

It seems as though, in both cases, promised sponsorship money has not been forthcoming, also the collapse of Zoom did not help matters. Surely when these sponsorship contracts are drawn up some consideration must be given to making them legally binding? (of course this is where my complete lack of understanding on these matters is shown up!) How can a company, who promises to sponsor a team, simply walk away? That’s what baffles me!!

I consider the Bison/Caps along with the Phoenix as, in the grand scale of things in the Elite League we are all ‘small’ teams. So whenever I hear of other teams having trouble I have to admit to worrying about my team! Thankfully I think no news is good news in terms of the Phoenix! We managed to get all (bar a couple) of players in before Zoom went bust. Our team are playing well so hopefully sponsorship money is continuing to come in, and crowds are up (I think!). Whilst I hope the Phoenix continue to flourish I really hope, come the end of the season, sensible heads can be put on and a long-term future for the Bison/Caps can be found.

My own thought (though probably had by someone else already!) could be to have a central pot, where any profits from the clubs who make money could be shared out to those less fortunate. A bit like the NFL (I think!). I know this idea may not sit well with Giants/Panther/Blaze and Steeler fans, but surely they would prefer to be playing 9 other teams as opposed to 7? That would get very boring very quickly! I can see a hole in that plan already in that, its not a given that the ‘bigger’ teams make a consistent profit (as you never see any financial results) but as the league is run by the club owners surely they can get round a table and thrash something out?

Every new season along with praying for a hard working Phoenix team, I always pray for a full season with every club making it without any wobbles. Again this seems not to be the case for 08/09. So please, Elite League, lets get this sorted for the good of Elite hockey in this country!

p.s. reading through today’s MEN it seems that the future development in Altrincham, which, would have included a new 3,000-seat arena for the Phoenix, has hit difficulties. One of the developers behind the project has filed for administration, I really hope this doesn’t put an end to the project, as our beloved Ice Dome is only a temporary facility. I just hope it doesn’t become a permanent temporary facility!

As always your comments/thoughts are appreciated!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Phoenix v Hull 27th October Game Review

Right…before I get on with my own review of the Phoenix v Hull game I wanted to make a couple of announcements. I have prepared a couple of posts with my views on the Phoenix so far and the league in general, including some opinions on how the Phoenix start to the season has been seen by other fans. Ill hopefully have these posts up in the next week or so! The other thing is, please stick with me on this blog thing, Its all new to me! Im still tinkering with the look of my blog and im also still finding my feet on how to write blog posts ……ill get there soon!

Also a big thank you to Paul over at the Breakaway British Hockey blog, not only for the name check but for bestowing ‘The Angry Budgie’ with the ‘Best Title of a Hockey Blog’ award!

Ok so a quick comment regarding the Coventry v Phoenix game from Saturday the 25th, now in the past I would have been happy with a point or at least a close game. But this season, with how well the team are doing, Ill be honest and say im gutted the team were not able to hold onto a two goal lead! But, if anything, that shows how far this years team has come! To go to Coventry with the realistic chance of getting something really does show this team could win things! Now with my Phoenix tinted specks on it seems like we were done in by the officials but I was not there so I can’t really use that as an excuse! Never the less I think that game has gone along way to convince sceptical fans around the league that the Phoenix should not be taken lightly!

Right onto the Phoenix v Hull game from yesterday (26th), this could have been a tricky game especially after a hard game in Coventry the previous night. Our games V Hull have never been easy and the Phoenix were made to work for the two points!

First Period: thought we dominated the period and despite some great goal tending from Cruickshank we could have gone into the break 2 or 3 nil up.

Second Period: Crikey what a start from the Phoenix, 26 seconds in and the lead was doubled from David Beauregard. But credit to Hull who dug deep and pulled a goal back. Just to make us Phoenix fans get a little edgy!

Third Period: Well it all went off in this period didn’t it!! The Phoenix and Hull traded goals up to 4-4, with the Phoenix never really closing out the game. It took a Nathan Ward goal with about 4 minutes to go before Stingray heads began to drop, and with the easiest goal Bauregard will ever score (empty netter) the Phoenix ground out the 6-4 win.

Verdict: Always thought the Phoenix were better than Hull, but we were made to work hard for the two points. I don’t mind that, as it shows the Phoenix can get down and work for the win! It was obvious the game the previous night in Coventry took a lot out of them but the team ethic and hard work shone through last night.

A quick mention must go to the family of Stingray fans sat in front of me in block 4. Despite being sat in with the Phoenix fans they had so much fun, never caused a problem and the three kids behaved impeccably! Certainly brought a smile to my family’s face!
Quick, announcement for all Phoenix fans, and those across the league! Go take a look at the Elite League Website, the Phoenix are second…yes second!!!!

Attendance: From my guesstimates about 1,200-1,400 in, good crowd, great atmosphere!

Now I think that is the format ill do my game reviews, give or take some minor changes, I would of course appreciate any comments on how you think it could be improved! I do hope that gives a brief outline so you can replay the game however you want in your head!

Finally a quick hello must go out to Cameron, a Canadian from Winnipeg who I met on a flight up from London about two weeks ago! Naturally we got chatting about hockey and my Phoenix head went on and I attempted to sell the Phoenix. So imagine my surprise when, about 15mins before the start of the game my girlfriend makes a comment about a guy wearing a hat saying something like’ That guy looks like the guy you described sitting with on the plane’ low and behold it was! As far as I know he enjoyed the game and went off into the night smiling!

As always comments are appreciated and I hope you enjoy reading my blog!

Friday, 24 October 2008

The most metal gig of 2009?

Ok so this is my first deviation from anything hockey related on this blog, but its something exciting I wanted to share.

Im a fan of metal, punk and ska, always have been, always will be! Last year I had the pleasure of going to the most metal gig (IMO) I have ever been to!
Location: MEN Arena
Bands: Machine Head, Trivium, DragonForce, Arch Enemy and Shadows Fall.
Result: Simple metal mayhem!

During 2007, I think?, I had the opportunity to see Iron Maiden at the MEN Arena, they were simply amazing! From that moment I decided to make an effort and see some of the most legendary rock bands live. That quest has continued from that gig, to the Foo Fighters at Wembley Stadium and, on the 26th February 2009 brings me to the mighty Metallica, with the always-awesome Machine Head at the MEN Arena!

Now if only I can get my arse into gear and go see Status Quo, ill be happy!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Ah well lets get started!

Despite what I said below, I was just too excited to get going and wait until next week!

So this is the first proper post in my blog, and I wanted to explain my reasons for starting a blog, so without further ado, let's get started:

Firstly: I am a hockey nut, I love hockey, I was brought up on hockey and have watched it as far back as I can remember! Ive had the chance to play hockey in Altrincham for a few of the different junior teams and had the pleasure of supporting the Metros back in the day! Oli Sinkov – Legend!

Secondly: The Phoenix, or The Phoenix via the Storm. My trip to the Phoenix began when the Nynex was being built and my dad and brother were asked to form part of a back room team who were to run match nights for the Manchester Storm. As a result I began to watch Storm games week in, week out and became resident in block 103. After a stint in the match night team myself and saddened through the loss of the Storm my hockey life got a new lifeline with the arrival of the Phoenix! Went to game one, took up residency in block 4 and still going to this day!

Thirdly: The other hockey bloggers! I have developed a habit that began last season of reading other hockey blogs on a regular basis, and I have loved reading everyone, my favourites I have linked to on my page. So when this season 0809 began the thought came into my mind to start one myself!

Thirdly part 2: In connection with the above, I dearly want the sport of Hockey to gain more recognition in this country. Here at the Phoenix crowds are steadily growing and with more blog’s/podcasts etc… we can elevate the sport in the UK.

So here we are the start of a new road for me, I only hope its ok to read!

As always comments are appreciated and input as to how I can improve the reading pleasure will be taken on board!

Thanks for reading!

Well here we go!

Righty well this is my first foray into the blogging world, I will get preparing and do my first post sometime next week!