The Angry Budgie Live

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Half Year Review

You may have seen a fair few blogs and postings on forums giving half yearly reviews of the season so far. They are generally a fun read, I on the other hand have decided to be lazy and basically link a few reviews in one post.

The first was posted by Paul over at the Breakaway Hockey Blog, which can be found here!

The second is posted by Matt and Becky over at Five Minute Major.

The final post I've found is by Rob over at The Pyre.

Go check em out if you fancy a good read!

My views on the season so far are basic, I think this is the best team we have had at the Phoenix without a doubt. We all worried when Tallari left, we all worried when we signed Smurf. However I have been chuffed with how Tony has answered those questions. David Beauregard is easily the best player in the league, and in Smurf we have the true GB no.1 goalie! For my he has been the biggest surprise this season.

As Rob over at the Pyre has said what we are lacking is consistency, looking through the game programme we never seem to string a long run of wins. Recently we have reverted to WLWLWL etc....which is frustrating. While I don't expect us to be challenging for the top spot, it seems a shame we have slipped a little recently.

So my wish for 2009 and the rest of the season is a bit of consistency from the team, and who knows an upset in Nottingham!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Phoenix v Newcastle 26th December Game Review

So I hope every one had a great christmas and got everything they wanted from Santa! I must also apologise for the late posting of this game review! As you all will know christmas plans are never set in stone!

So onto the game, it seemed like we hadn't played the Vipers before, its been a long time since they last visited the Dome! Games against the Vipers have always been very physical and quite even, however I would always expect the Phoenix to win the home games against Newcastle!

First Period: A classic first period, end to end hockey, very physical but some great hockey being played. Then over a 8 second period after 5 mins the game was more or less all said and done! Firstly Fulghum scored at 5min 10sec, and as Andy C was reading out the details the second went in at 5min 18sec through Burnett un-assisted! The Phoenix, had, prior to this lost Clouthier to a game penalty for 3rd man in. Now I did not see the incident that caused this, but I remember seeing Clouthier wheel around and stride into the corner. Sadly the officials come down hard on 3rd man in and Cloots was chucked! The period carried on as normal and then with 24sec left in the period Bauregard scored the 3rd for the Phoenix. Overall a very satisfying opener for the Phoenix!

Second Period: Newcastle seemed to find some life in this period and slowly found some life, Verner between the pipes also found his form! The only goal of the period fell to the Vipers and Griffith got his first of the game at 28min 9sec.

Third Period: Another tight period with only one goal to show for it. This fell to Griffiths again who scored the second at 41min 15sec. This set up the third nicely, but the Phoenix managed to hold on and secure the two points.

Verdict: A classic game against the Vipers, tight, physical and hard. However very happy we got the win. Campbell and Payette made themselves an annoyance all game but thankfully the guys dealt with it easily!

Was also good to see the boys doing the double and securing another two points with a win up in Newcastle the following night!

Attendance: Quite a large crowd in considering it was boxing day! I would say 1,400 in!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Dwight takes Flight!

Well its deja-vu, a second player has left the Phoenix during the campaign, dependable Phoenix D man Dwight Parrish will leave after the boxing day clash against the Vipers.

Dwight Parrish leaves the Phoenix

I have posted on the relevant thread on the Phoenix forum, but decided to tone it down on there! Didn't want to get flamed too badly! However on here I've decided to express my full opinion. Yes its a bit of a rant, and its not helped with the memory of Grant Jacobsen jumping ship earlier in the season!

Firstly id like to explain why im disappointed, before finishing off with my thanks etc....

Dwight has decided to go as he has had a 'once-in-a-lifetime' job offer back in the USA, why is it always a 'too-good-to-turn-down' offer? The thing that disappoints me the most is he is leaving half way through the season! Were also in the middle of a busy patch of games, a patch where we could do with as many bodies as possible! Its also disappointing as he has been a great role model for Luke Boothroyd, with whom he shares a blue line with!

It just goes to show, season long contracts here in the UK don't seem to be 'season long' in some cases!

So onto the positive, Dwight has been a great role model (as mentioned above) to the younger players on the Phoenix roster! He puts in a professional display every game and works hard every shift! He has also been a great franchise player, having iced for the Storm and now two spells with the Phoenix.

After all this, I appreciate that hockey in the UK is not the best paid profession, and fully accept a players right to look out for whats best for him and his family! With that in mind I want to offer Dwight my sincere thanks, I will stand and join in with all the other Phoenix fans in applauding Dwight at the Vipers game for all he has given for hockey in the Phoenix!
But it will be done with some disappointment!

Thanks Dwight, and all the best for the future!

p.s. dont flame me for saying the above, but its just my opinion!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Phoenix v Sheffield 21st December Game Review

So last night (sunday) saw the visit to the Dome of the Shuff Steelers, this was to be our last game before christmas. This game also saw my brother Paul (who writes this blog from across in Japan: World Wide Webisphere) and his girlfriend Yuko! For once we were not subject to arctic temperatures in the Dome, probably due to the first double digit temperatures in ages!

Anyway onto the game!

First Period: Not much between the two teams in the first, tho when ever we play the Steelers there never is! The only goal of the period fell to Fulgham at 11min10sec with a cracking shot from the blue line! Other than that there was not much else to the period!

Second Period: This period belonged to Andy Carson, when ever he ref's, and im assuming this is across any game he does, but he is insistent on evening out the penalties called! Either through some dodgy calls or the Phoenix loosing discipline Shuff took hold in this period bringing the game level at 22min46sec through Legue on the powerplay.

Third Period: The final period saw Mr Carson go for even penalties with a vengeance, Hooking, seemed penalty of the month! The Phoenix battled hard to get back into the game but Shuff showed why they are top of the league! Only one goal again this period, and empty netter!

Verdict: A tight game, but the Phoenix were not good enough! Every time ive seen the Steelers this season I have thought they were good, but not great! I view this game, as the others, as a missed opportunity. Mr Carson didn't do us any favours, I don't think he was Tom Darnell poor, but he wasn't good!

The Phoenix are frustrating at the moment, we obviously have one of the best teams ever at the moment, we are riding pretty high in the league, for us anyway! But our record against the top clubs is poor! I wouldn't mind loosing away to these teams but we seem to loose at home too!

Attendance: Good crowd in, disappointed with the numbers from Shuff but the proximity of christmas probably had an effect. Looking around id say 1,800 in last night!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Phoenix v Basingstoke 14th December Game Review

Well this game brought a busy pre Christmas period to a close, bar a small game versus the Steelers on the 21st December!, with this being the 4th game in 5 days. All our games against the Bison have been difficult, home or away the Bison are no push over! This can also be shown by some of the results the Herd have had against those at the summit of the table. As such this was a potential banana skin game for the Phoenix. I also wondered what effect the previous nights exertions against the Blaze would have on the team.

Anyway on to the game, another cold one at the Dome too!

First Period: After the first 10 minutes I thought the Phoenix looked good, it was never going to be a walk over but for the majority the puck remained in the Bison zone. As time wore on I did start thinking, ‘we should have scored by now!’ I know the Phoenix have no divine right to score but we had already had a number of chances, but were being kept at bay by some excellent goal tending from Reiter.
Anyway the break through finally came on 11minutes on the PPG with a goal from come back king Mulherin! That goal, and the five week layoff must have done wonders for Mulherin, on the back of goals against the Caps and further points picked up, Mulherin went mad and completed a first period hatrick. Second and third goals followed at 13mins 46sec with a short-handed goal and a second PPG at 17 minutes ensure the Phoenix were well ahead at the break.

Second Period: More of the same from the Phoenix in the second, but the Bison did get on the scoreboard at 19.47 from a storming shot from Braff on point. Probably one of the best shots seen at the Dome this was first class to the back of the net! Thankfully this prompted a scoring splurge from the Phoenix who raced to a 6-1 lead with goals from Beauregard (26.29), Walker (35.13) and Fulgham (37.35).

Third Period: Crikey the Bison come at you when they have nothing to loose! Couple with the Phoenix taking their foot off the gas the Bison came back with two quick goals in the third period. Firstly Tait at 43 mins and then through Stewart at 45mins the Bison brought the score to within 3 goals. Thankfully this was a wake up call to the Phoenix and Adam Walker scored his second of the night at about the 48th Minute. To cap off another good player performance Walker grabbed his own hatrick at 56min 32seconds to bring the scoreboard to 8-3. Finally with 5mins to go both teams replaced their netties, so this saw Adam Summerfield go between the pipes, he didnt face many shots be crucially he conceded none!

Verdict: Well a banana skin avoided tonight! A tough opposition, possible fatigue setting in but thankfully the Phoenix rose above it and put in a good performance to get the win! Special shouts must go out to Bruce Mulherin who has come back to the line up and provided much needed relief to Bauregard in the scoring column. A second shout to Adam Walker who worked his socks off and bagged a deserved hat trick! A final shout goes to our Birt/3rd Line which put in its best performance for a while! This line is the grit/hard working line, but tonight, with Cloots/Walker/Graham and Boorthroyd (mostly) it was great to see our Brits getting regular ice time and working so hard and more importantly getting their just rewards! Clouthier fits the bill on this line so well! He works hard and looks to protect our Brits, and they in turn try their best for every second of their shift!
My final thought comes as a result of the first 10 minutes of the third period. As has happened numerous times this season the Phoenix get into a great position on the scoreboard, but suddenly we seem to ease off and let the opposition in. I know the Bison only got to within 3 goals, but against other teams that lead could have been reversed! The Phoenix need to learn to kill of games and shut down the opposition. I believe this is the best team we have had at the Phoenix, iron these little things out and we could win things!

Attendance: Probably 1,200 in tonight, I think having two home games so close together contributed to the low turn out. But well done to everyone in last night in making the atmosphere half decent!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Phoenix v Edinburgh 11th December Game Review

This was the first mid-week game of the season (I think) and crikey was it cold! The visit of the Caps saw the Phoenix take to the ice for the second game in five days! As always against the Caps I expect the Phoenix to pick up the two points at home, but the games are never easy ones!

First Period: Good start from the Phoenix saw the home side take the lead after 1min and 5 sec through a Fulgham goal. It was clear from the outset that the Phoenix should win the game. The only un-known was by how many! It took a while for the Phoenix dominance to press home, but at 16min 28seconds Nathan Ward buried the puck into the top right corner!

Second Period: Hmmm the Phoenix either took the foot off the gas or the Caps found their skating boots! The second was a much more even affair. Having said that it was the Phoenix who lit the light next through a welcome return to the goal for Bruce Mulherin at 24min 25sec. This prompted a response from the Caps who finally got on the board at 30min 49sec through Rajcak and then again at 44min and 4seconds through Bowie.

Third Period: The early Phoenix pressure seemed to have gone in the Third and the Caps fought their way back into the game! The Phoenix finally but more breathing space between themselves and the caps thanks to a vintage one-on-one from Beauregard who raced away and buried the puck! All was well! Unfortunately during this period both teams discipline seemed to desert them and both sides made frequent trips to the penalty box. The Caps made the final minutes tense with their third goal at 57min 50seconds through Hurtubise. Then with Kenton Smith in the box at 58minutes and 6seconds for a debatable tripping penalty, the Caps pulled the keeper and lay siege to the Phoenix net! Thankfully the hockey gods were on our side and except for a Caps shot riccoceing from post to post the home side held on for the two points!

Verdict: On a chuffing cold night, it was not pretty, it was not easy! It never is against the Caps, it will certainly not go down as a stellar Phoenix performance, but what the hey, two points is two points!

Attendance: A number of reasons conspired to create possibly the smallest crowd of the season. A mid week game, just before Christmas, aforementioned cold weather and a massive pile up on the M56 saw around 600 brave souls make it to the Dome!

So the Phoenix march on to the weekend, trips to Coventry away (a point would be great!) before a home game vs the Bison (hopefully another two points!)

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The big 5-double-oh!

Well it happened, sometime yesterday this blog passed the 500 hits mark!

A big thank you must go out to all you in readerland! My aim with this blog was just to offer my opinions on hockey in this country and of course my views on my beloved Phoenix! A big thanks must also go out to all the other hockey blogs on the tinterweb who have linked The Angry Budgie to their pages. This obviously helps hits on the site, along with creating a big hockey family!

While many out there will probably disagree with my random mumblings, I hope my posts are a good read and that they make you think! The best thing us hockey fans can do is to talk about the sport, and spread the word! Its going to be tough but if we all stick together we can improve the prospects of this sport in the UK!

So that's it for today, but please keep reading, keep commenting! Ill keep trying to make posts cohearant and interesting as time goes by!

Take care of yourself and each other! :)

Monday, 8 December 2008

Cracking Weekend

Well I wouldn't usually do a game review for away games, but I thought for the weekend just gone I thought id make and exception!

This was a tricky weekend, and one that would test the Phoenix. With two away games, first at the high flying Giants and then a tough game against the Devils the following night! Going into this weekend I didn't expect much. While against the Giants we have played well, but ive always thought that they outplayed us on each occasion, Belfast have such strength in depth! Against the Devils, well those games are more evenly matched. The times ive seen them at the Dome they have always been tough games. Certainly at the Dome I would expect the Phoenix to take two points! Away is a different matter! Id take any point/s I can get away from home!

So to the away game at the Odyssey, to be honest I did not expect anything from this game, other than a good performance and possibly a loss in overtime or on penalties. Crikey, so on we go to ihupdate at about 10pm and I literally smiled and said a quite 'Yes!' 5-2 win with a hatrick to Beauregard! That is a cracking result, the team clicks Bau has a stormer along with the real GB no.1 'Smurf'. The Phoenix made the best start to the weekend and showed the rest of the league, we mean business!

After that result I was more positive about the Cardiff game, it would always be close but after the win the previous night, who knows! Same again, satruday night onto ihupdate and it was 1-1 in the third! Talk about a tight game! Sadly the next time I checked we lost in O/T!

So 3 points from a possible 4 from the weekend! I know some may have been disappointed with the loss in Cardiff, but if someone had offered me 3 points from that weekend? I would have taken their arm off!

Well done lads, keep it up!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

What is a well supported Club?

*First off before you read on, I must say this post is in no way an attack on Mick Holland at the NEP! These are just my views and opinions on what he said!*

Well, you may be wondering, it can depend on a number of things!

This post is really an expansion on my previous post back on the 26th November concerning comments made in the Nottingham Evening Post. As you may have read the journalist made two comments following on from the Panthers loss which put them out of the competition. This meant that they joined Sheffield in being knocked out, ‘What are those comments?’ I hear you ask, well they are:

With both Sheffield and Nottingham out of the competition the league is set to loose out on revenue generated from those games involving either Sheffield or Nottingham.
There are no ‘Well-supported’ clubs left in the competition.

Now for the sake of waffling I have summed up the comments made into the above. After making my original post concerning the Challenge Cup I have been in email correspondence with a (Panthers?) fan, who disagrees with my view on the articles in question. In response to a number of the points raised I wanted to re-visit the subject and expand on it, hopefully explaining my views further!

If I take the first comment, the gentleman I have been emailing states the league takes 40% of the gate takings. Now I must be honest I have never seen this amount quoted anywhere, but if any of you out in readerland can point me to its source I will stand corrected. This figure seems very high to me, and is it just for the cup games or is it for all games? If this is true then I will concede that the league is more than likely to make a little less money now Shuff/Notts are out? But I would argue, will they really loose out that much? The Giants are still in the competition and they can claim to pull in crowds equal to those at both ends of the M1! Plus lets face it, any money lost from the CC will be made up at the rather overpriced Play-off weekend!

In reality I think it’s the second comment that has annoyed me the most, the journalist has used the term ‘there are no well-supported clubs left’. How can you define what ‘well-supported’ is? It can be a number of things:

  • Largest average crowd?
  • Largest arena?
  • Most season ticket holders?
  • Largest away following?
  • Loudest crowd?

There are probably more ways of defining it, but reading the NEP articles it seems ‘well supported’ equals largest home attendances. To be honest this is a load of baloney in my eyes! By that token back in the early days of the Manchester Storm, we had the best-supported club in the league with average attendances of over 8,000. But could you really say in those days we were the best supported? Most of those tickets were probably give aways! Plus large attendances can depend on so many things; both Shuff and Nottingham have long illustrious pasts where the fan base has been built upon for years. Realistically at the Phoenix we have only be building our fan base for 3 seasons spread over 5 years. So we may not have 4,000 ave attendances but again what does that matter? We may not have a multi-purpose arena, but again, does that matter?

Personally my view on what makes a ‘well-supported’ club comes down to a couple of things. I think the obvious one is % of seats filled in your home rink/arena, this coupled with travelling support can give an indication as to how well a club is supported. Even saying this many things can affect those numbers. If I may be so bold we at the Phoenix have a tough job competing with both United and City for a fans recreational spend. I would argue that, in Altrincham we have a far tougher time than the Panthers have against Notts Forest and the Steelers against Sheff Utd/Wednesday! I say that even though my dad is a Blades fan! Anyway I digress!

Its difficult to look at travelling support so I thought I would turn my attention to average home attendances and capacities of the rinks around the league. May I start by saying the capactities were taken from Wikipedia (you know anything Wikipedia says is true!) and a rather un-scientific guess at each teams average home attendance.
So I have thrown together a table below, which throws up an interesting top 4 teams in terms of filling their own rink:

Club Average Home Att Rink Capacity % Filled

Bison 900 1600 57
Giants 3500 7100 50
Devils 1800 2500 72
Blaze 1800 2800 64
Caps 500 3800 13
Hull 800 2000 40
Phoenix 1600 2500 64
Vipers 1800 4500 40
Panthers 4000 6500 61
Steelers 3800 8500 45

*hmmm can anyone tell me how to get this list spaced properly?

So lets have a look at the top 4 teams in terms of getting bum’s on seats:

  1. Devils @ 72%
  2. Blaze & Phoenix at 64%
  3. Panthers @ 61%

Of note the Steelers would come in at number 7 in that list. Again it’s a rather un-scientific table, so if you’re a fan of any of those teams and have a better idea on the ave attendance for your team drop me an email and let me know!

So from that table the most ‘supported teams’ in the league don’t occupy number 1 and 2 slot but numbers 4 and 7! Now in my book that does not make you the leagues best-supported club! I must add, however, that I do not claim the Phoenix to be the best-supported club in the league! I think we have some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in the league but would never claim the Phoenix to be the best supported!

I feel as though that has now helped me exercise my annoyance with those articles from the NEP. But it goes to show that there may be some truth to the often ‘holier than thou’ views held by many within the Tin Shed and NIC!

I don’t for one moment expect anyone reading this to agree with what ive said, I just hope it makes you think! I would urge readers across all message boards and journo’s to think twice before bandying the ‘Best supported’ tag around. As you can see if can be defined an innumerate amount of ways! I for one am glad neither Sheffield or Nottingham are left in the competition, it gives those of us who are fans of the ‘other’ teams some hope and belief that we can compete for things.

So there we go, this is me signing off on the subject! I hope this post has been interesting to read for you all! Many thanks to Paul over at the British Hockey Blog for his input, and of course I welcome yours!

Take care everyone, and I hope your all out Christmas shopping! Only 23 days to go!!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Phoenix v Cardiff 30th November Game Review

So this saw the return of the Devils to the Dome, a big welcome and thanks must go out to the travelling Devils fans. Quite a few made the trip up to Manchester, unfortunately the drum did too! I always wonder what Cardiff fans must think of our rink as its identical to the Cardiff Bay rink, except we have proper walls!

Anyway onto the game, this game provided an opportunity to reward Tony Hand for passing the 4,000 point mark in the previous nights demolition of the Stingrays. Tony, in his typical fashion, seemed to want to keep things quite! Not on your nelly this time Tony J

First Period: Crikey where did this Devils team come from! The first period again showed how close our two teams are, however if im honest Cardiff seemed to have a step or two extra in them. In a testament to how close the period was the first goal, for the Devils, appeared at the 14minute mark from Teplitsky. The period finished after much huff and puff with shots on goal fairly even. I was a little worried as I was not sure where a Phoenix goal was going to come from! Our shooting seemed a little off!

Second Period: More of the same, a lot of hard work put in by both teams, foreheads frowned some more when Cardiff extended their lead through Hill and Latulippe on the powerplay. SOG again even and at this stage I thought the score began to flatter the Devils.

Third Period: Blimey, the defecation certainly hit the ventilation (quote of the century from the Phoenix forum) in this period. The Phoenix finally got on the board through Luke Fulgham, then a collective nap allowed Cardiff to restore the 3 goal lead when 91 seconds later Campbell scored. Hopes were raised when the next to goals went in for the Phoenix through the leagues leading scored Beauregard and Fulgham with his second. However once again the Phoenix’ concentration let them down and Jarvis snuck in to make the score 5-3. It was in this period that a major ruckus occurred, and in my view, re-affirmed my view that the Devils (and in particular Voth) are a bunch of dirty gits! I think it was Kenton Smith working hard in front of the Devils goal who headed to the far corner to dig the puck out, he was then cross-checked three times by Voth before falling to the ice. At this point it all kicked off, and depending on who you believe Voth had Kyle Bruce literally by the throat!
Now enforcers have a place in hockey, even Brett has a colourful past! But if Voth did what he was supposed to have done he should be thrown out of the league!

Verdict: Bit of a strange game, was a close game but the Phoenix were not at their best! Too many centered passes with no one on the end of, too many times the Phoenix would score and then go to sleep and concede a goal! Having said that I was disappointed with the number of times the Cardiff goalie would push the net off its moorings! Plus the number of times he had to stop the game to complain bout the ice in the crease! Come on mate Murphy has to use the same crease but manages ok!

Attendance: Good crowd in, id say around 1,700 in!

Ah well as always if you have any comments/thoughts they are always appreciated!

P.s. My thanks to Richard Bullock for emailing The Angry Budgie offering his opinion on my previous post. Just goes to show that people do read this blog!!