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!