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Friday, 30 January 2009

Phoenix v Hull 29th January Knock Out Cup Game Review

A cold Thursday night saw the Stingrays come to the Ice Dome for the first leg of our Knockout Cup game. As mentioned in Wednesday’s post this game is actually an important game for both teams. As the cup competitions offer the more realistic shot at some silverware for each team. With that in mind, despite Hull suffering a number of injuries, the Phoenix could not take the game lightly. With being the first leg too, it was important for the Phoenix to win the game and post a good first leg score to take to Hull on Valentines Day. As with the game against the Devils last Sunday youngster Bed Wood dressed and wore the number 1 jersey! I hope this lad gets some ice time, he looks a very good player! Tall, good skater, good stick handler and not a bad shot either!

First Period: The first period saw the Phoenix take control, but as with every game against the Stingray’s the Phoenix were made to work hard! I can’t say it was pretty either; the term workmanlike comes to mind! Having said that the Phoenix were able to carve out a number of opportunities, only to come up against a determined Cruickshank in the Stingrays net. The Phoenix made the breakthrough at 17min 38seconds when Kyle Bruce rounded the net and slid the puck out, from behind the net, through the crease to a waiting Kenton Smith. A well placed shot from the Phoenix captain saw the Phoenix get on the board.

Second Period: A pretty similar period to the first, the Phoenix controlling most of the play and coming up against Cruickshank. Thankfully it was the Phoenix who scored the only goal of the period. The goal came at 35min and 24sec when Tony Hand picked up the puck and skated down the right wing, Brett Clouthier drove hard to the net, and somehow Tony threaded a pass through and the big man slotted home! I was really happy Brett scored, over recent games he was worked very hard, got into scoring positions only for a spectacular save, or for the puck to bounce awkwardly. Well-done Brett great goal!

Third Period: The main aim for this period, for me would be to stop Hull from scoring! A two goal lead is pretty good, but 2-1 or 2-2 would be completely different! Well the Phoenix had other ideas, another strong period from the guys saw them extend the lead to 4-0! The third goal came from Tony Hand at 46min 42sec with an assist to David Beauregard. You may be shocked as this means Tony Hand took a shot J ! The fourth goal came at 56min 28sec when Kyle Bruce topped of a fine display for him with the final goal of the game.

Verdict: Just what the Phoenix needed to do in the first leg,4 goals is good but to get the shutout is even better! Well done to Smurf on that count too by the way! In the end it was a tricky game negotiated well by the Phoenix. They dealt well with the Stingray threat throughout the game!

One thing did stand out for me, the Phoenix had at least 4 breakout opportunities on the Hulll net while on the penalty kill. Against clubs around us in the table it can be excused but if the club want to move up the table we must start putting away these chances! That would be my only negative comment from last nights game.

Attendance: Crikey a couple of events conspired to produce the smallest crowd of the season. A fixture change, midweek game, the credit crunch and a seemingly pointless (in some eyes) competition saw around 600 people make it to the Dome.

The Manchester Evening News Article for this game can be found here.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

KO Cup Preview, Phoenix v Hull

I would not usually do a game preview, but there are a couple of reasons I thought I would! First off this is not going to be an in depth preview, for that you could mosey on along to the F Block Blog for a good read!

So onto those reasons, I think most Hull fans would agree with me when I say, realistically the cup competitions are going to be our best shot at a bit of silverware. While I would love the Phoenix to win the league I am realistic enough to know, it probably won't happen!

Tomorrow night's game I would usually chalk up for a Phoenix win, simply because, on our Ice I think we are too strong for the Rays. Couple this with a morale boosting win against the Devils last sunday should see the Phoenix post a good first leg lead. However as this is a knockout competition, and every team in this league can beat each other its not a dead cert for a Phoenix win. The Rays will be up for this game, and the Phoenix will need to be too!

Given all that I still think the Phoenix can win this, but the boys need to do a good job to keep Messers Glowa/Konstadine and Kalmikov. Do that and we should win!

Anyway, have a good evening and hopefully sometime Friday I will have my usual game review online!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Phoenix v Cardiff 25th January Game Review

As is customary ill just pass quick comment over the Phoenix’ visit to Coventry the night before. To be honest I was not expecting much! The Phoenix, on the back of a 4 game loosing streak, rolled into the SkyDome, a place where the Phoenix are yet to win a game! (I think!) So Saturday night, I fire up IH Update to keep a track on the score, I check back, fairly late on and, oh my word, the Phoenix are 6-3 up with 10 minutes to go! I go and watch TV for a bit and think, righty ho the game should have finished. Back onto IH Update, refresh the page and bang! We have lost 7-6 in Overtime! The Phoenix were 6-4 up with 25 seconds to go and conceded two goals for the tie. Now I did not go to the game, but to concede 2 goals with 25 seconds to go? In my book that is not acceptable! Feel free to dismiss my thoughts as you want, im fully aware I did not witness the on-ice happenings, but come on 25 seconds? Line the 5 guys up in front of the net and build a wall! Crikey!

Anyway much has been made of this on the Phoenix forum’s with two camps really setting their stalls out. One is those who take the view that to concede two goals in the dying seconds is not good enough, the other are those Fans who were there! I can see the points made from both sides! Yes many people were not there to see how exactly Coventry came back to score, and how under siege our goal must have been. But I also think the other comments are valid, 2 goals up, in Coventry, you must not concede!

I think, the reason that such a debate has come up on the forums is an indicator of how good this years team is! If im honest I did not expect anything from this game, especially on the back of our recent run of results. However seeing how close we came to a win in Coventry, im gutted and disappointed! I would, however, along with many other Phoenix fans would have been one to say ‘Yes Please’ to a point being offered to us before face off!

Anyway enough about that game, if you want more check out the Phoenix forum, other blogs, and in particular Paul over at the Breakaway Hockey Blog. (Him being a Blaze fan an all!)

So Sunday saw the visit of the Devils and the perennial fan favourite Brad Voth! Games against the Devils are always close affairs! I like to compare ourselves to the Devils to get a good idea as to how we are doing!

First Period: This game also saw Ben Wood debut from the ENL game, he ended up not getting any ice time in the end. But the boy looks good! Tall, agile, good skater and good stick-handler! One for the future I think!
The first period began and it was obvious Cardiff were going to be playing their physical type of hockey throughout the game! A lot of hard hitting, from both sides contributed to a great first period. The only goal of said period game from Fulgham at 12min 41sec who finished off a flowing move that really was a work of art! Check out Phoenix TV for the highlights!

Second Period: More or less a carbon copy of the first! The only goal of the period came by way of the Phoenix. Alex Dunn was left un-marked in front of the net, and at 25min exactly lit the red light! The second also saw some superb open ice hitting, and some top quality glass rattling!

Third Period: Again more of the same in the third, however an added tinge of nervousness given the Phoenix’ recent lack of ability in holding onto a lead! In the end the Phoenix needn’t have worried, despite Cardiff upping the pressure the Phoenix, and Smurf were able to hold them at bay! Highlight of the period had to be little Luke Boothroyd laying out Brad Voth! Another bonus to the period was that annoying drum the Devils fans bring, being kept silent!

Verdict: A good win, a good performance and some much-needed space now between the Devils and us. In the end I think the Phoenix dealt well with the offensive thread from Cardiff and looked pretty solid at the back! A definite confidence booster! So a 3-point weekend, one, which should have been 4! But never mind, in the end its been a good weekend for the Phoenix!

Attendance: I was expecting a poor crowd to be honest! 4 losses in a row does not do wonders for attendance. I was proved wrong, a cracking crowd in last night. Great atmosphere and great support! Probably about 1,500-1,600 in. Ive noticed something else recently too, our building, no matter how cold, shoddy or what ever you think. You get it about half full, at least, and we can create a fantastic atmosphere! Who needs big arenas hey!

Manchester Evening News article can be found here.

Thursday, 22 January 2009


Well, crikey that was quick!

This humble blog has now passed the 1k visitors mark.

This is when The Angry Budgie passed the 500 mark.

Once again I have to say a big thank you to all you out there in readerland, and thanks to the other hockey blog's who are linked to this one. I hope the blog is an interesting read for you all, and as always if you have any comments or just want to message the blog just send a quick email to the address in the top right!

Anyway thank you again and remember, support local hockey!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

New Year Resolutions Mk2

Sorry for the delay in posting this, I had intended to do this last night but a complete lack of Internet connection, plus an evening spent watching some new President guy put paid to that!

Earlier this month I posted what were my new year resolutions:


Yesterday lunch time saw one of those resolutions come true!

Yes im now a fully fledged petrolhead!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Phoenix v Belfast 18th January Game Review

This is up a bit earlier than planned, ill be completing a new years resolution tomorrow at lunchtime....hopefully! Ill be able to post pics to prove it!

So the Phoenix were away in the House of Tin, Friday night to face the Steelers. As usual with games away in Shuff my expectations are a loss, but with this seasons team I expect a point from the game! Keeping tabs on IH update through the evening showed that it was a tight game. However the Phoenix lost out in regulation time. I remember being a little disappointed with the result, but more worried about the 3rd loss in a row! With the Giants at the Dome next, it was going to be tough for the Phoenix to break that run!

Anyway onto the Giants game, as mentioned before the Giants are a very good team! My memories of their first visit to the Dome were, that the Giants come at you fast and strong across 3 very good lines! The debate has been had on Lyle vs Murhpy but im biased so ill leave that one to you!

First Period: A strong start from both teams indicated this could be a real classic! So it proved, end to end action and yet no goals to show for it! The crowd were happy!

Second Period: More of the same in the second with neither team really letting up and giving an inch! Astonishingly it was just on the half way mark when Deniset, at 30min 4sec fired the puck home. This prompted the Phoenix to come back and take the lead through two Fulgham goals, the game tieing goal at 36min 1sec and the go-ahead goal at 38min 8sec. Sadly, the Phoenix’ fan delight was short lived, when just under a minute later Denistet got his second goal, timed 39min 1 sec.

Third Period: So we entered the third period with all to play for! Just someone forgot to tell the Phoenix! With only 19seconds gone Colin Shields fired an absolutely storming shot into Murphy’s top corner!After that the Phoenix simply collapsed and played possibly the worst 20min’s of hockey I have seen all season! The giants went on to score a further 5 unanswered goals:

45min 21sec – Dave Phillips
46min 15sec – Evan Cheverie
49min 47sec – Paul Deniset (third hatrick in three games at the Dome!)
51min 55sec – Bobby Robins
56min 26sec – George Awada.

I remember thinking after Deniset’s hatrick goal, ‘oh great we still have 10 minutes to go!’

It simply was a shambolic period from the Phoenix, Murphy was trying his best, but even he started to get affected by the poor performance! Finally Adam Summerfield got some ice time and came on for the last two minutes! Personally I would have had him on sooner! The game was lost after 19seconds! The only bright point was Kyle Bruce having a fight and, in my book, wiping the floor with his Giants adversary. Cheered us up in the stands!

Verdict: As you may have guessed I was not happy with last night’s game. Sorry I tell a lie, the Phoenix were great for the first two periods, but guys, hockey is a 60min game! The drop in performance was shocking, no wonder the atmosphere was flat and no one could be bothered singing!
Im not professing that the Phoenix are a great team, but this season we have a good set of players who have shown they can beat anyone! Plus for the first two periods, we not only equalled the Giants but possible edged it! Which makes the humiliating score line harder to take!
Coupled with the loss in Shuff Friday night, this means the Phoenix have now lost 4 in a row. The Devils are now edging closer, if the Phoenix want to live up to their league placing they need some consitency and need it now!
I think that is where the Phoenix are at now, we are a comfortable mid-table team, getting WLWLW results. Now the next development must be to string together a few wins, this will truly see the team press into the top 4!

Attendance: Not one of the best crowd’s in last night, I guesstimate about 1,200 in!

As usual here is the Manchester Online article.

Belfast Game Review

Just a quick note to those regular readers, I will post my usual Game Review of the Giants game from Sunday night just a bit later than usual! Apart from calming down from the worst 20mins ive seen the Phoenix play all season, im off up to Preston to complete one of my new year's resolutions! Which can be found here!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Injuries....Signings.....and the Wage Cap!

Im not sure if this is meant to be a rant or not! Looking around the various club forum’s, websites etc.. it seems a few clubs have/or will be making new player signings recently or in the next week or two.

This got me wondering, how are these clubs able to make these signings and stay under the wage cap? If anything it re-enforces the view that there is no wage-cap, and as before the league will do nothing! I could be making wild accusations here, its entirely possible, but something just doesn’t sit right for me! I know clubs do make singnings during a season to cover injuries etc…. however of the clubs making signings recently, im only aware of Nottingham having many players out through injury! Having said that, I think it’s a grey area! Obviously the new player is coming in to cover an extended injury, fair enough, but what happens to those players wages? Are they still counted towards the cap? I have read on The Cage Forum, some people saying the insurance will pay the wages and therefore those wages do not count. That seems a little fishy to me!

The new singnings in question are:

Panthers, in: Jurij Golicic and Corey LeClair.
Giants: Jason Rushton
Coventry: Dominic D’Amour (rumoured)

This whole issue also stems from watching Coventry beat the Phoenix last Sunday, now Coventry are a very good team and they put on a great show. However looking at the bench it go me thinking. Coventry have a roster that provides 3 very strong lines, plus an extra skater or two (cant fully remember!). Add to this two goalies and, according to the Blaze website you have 20 players. Against the Phoenix bench, 16 players, this makes a huge difference.
Then the thought popped into my head, how can the Blaze be under the wage cap? I admit the basis for me thinking this is not the most sound, but, the Phoenix will never bust the wage cap, there simply are not the funds to do it. However are we really 4 whole players behind? There cant be huge differences in quality of those players, as the game ended 2-1 Blaze and was fairly close in the end. So what is it? How can there be such a big difference in the size of the roster and both clubs remain under the cap? I always thought the wage cap would leave a roster with around 18 players, give or take a few depending on the number/quality of Brits.

Looking into the rosters for the other ‘big 4’ teams you can get a bit of a mixed view, looking at three different sources (Internet Hockey Database, Clubs own website, and the Elite Website) the ‘big 4’ clubs have the following roster numbers:

Coventry: 19.3 players
Belfast: 17 players
Nottingham: 24 players
Sheffield: 18 players

I know Nottingham stand out, but this is where the players signed minus those injured makes a difference. So you could take a couple off the Panthers figure. But either way, the closer to the top of the table you are, the bigger your roster! Some would say that makes obvious sense, to get to the top you need a big team. But I would also argue, the bigger the roster, the closer you are to the cap if you’re not over it already!

My argument basically falls down to numbers. This season we had a lower wage cap and a commitment by the league to enforce it. So if we had a lower wage-cap, how can some clubs have similar or larger rosters than last season, with the higher wage-cap?

If you have made it to the end of all that thanks for reading! Feel free to dismiss my comments as sheer paranoia, however the league does not exactly give the best impression of self-governance!
In the end you can believe what you want, I could ramble on for hours about the wage-cap but I wont, for now! I just wanted to get that off my chest!

Monday, 12 January 2009

Phoenix v Coventry 11th January Game Review

This saw the first visit of the Blaze to the Ice Dome this season, I was quite surprised when I looked at the fixture list! Seems quite late to be playing a team for the first time in Alty!

I must make a quick comment on the Phoenix visit to Newcastle on Saturday 10th Jan, the Phoenix lost this came by the odd goal. Now its no bad thing loosing up in Newcastle, they are a tough team and it’s a tough place to go and get a result. However a sign of how far this team have come, im very disappointed that the Phoenix were not able to get at least a point. Now I didn't go to the game but reading the Phoenix forum regarding the game it seems like it was a bit of a stinker from the guys. Now each team can play a stinker, but if we want to move on from last season we need to start stringing wins together! Too often we get a couple of wins in a row then revert to last seasons, WLWLWLW etc…. Consistency is the key, even more so as we approach March, and the jostling for playoff berths begins.

Anyway, as I said, I did not go to the game so I cant comment much more than that! Onto Sundays game versus the Blaze, I didn't expect the Phoenix to win this one, but I thought we had a glimmer of hope as the Blaze have been wobbling recently. Before the game I was happy for a point!

First Period: Well the Blaze came out flying, either that or the Phoenix did not know what to expect and were asleep! After a frenetic two minutes the Blaze took the lead, when Watkins was found all alone in front of the Phoenix net, he made no mistake and rifled the puck home. After that rude wake up call the Phoenix came back to life and began to ease back into the game. The rest of the period was end to end hockey with Murphy and Perras called upon to make some fine saves. So come the end of the period I was disappointed to go in one down, but encourage by the fight back by the Phoenix.

Second Period: After a delay of ten minutes due to the away goal not settling in its moorings, why is it away goalies always have a problem with our nets? I don’t see Murphy complaining every game? Anyway that’s a whole different argument for a different post. More of the same in the second period, however I did feel the Phoenix were coming into the game and offering some decent resistance to the Blaze. So imagine the delight when the Phoenix finally got on the board in the 37th minute when Mulherin fired the puck into the net. Joy quickly turned to despair when, less than a minute later, Weaver broke down the wing and fired a scorching shot past Murphy. 2-1 Blaze and a goal Smurf will defiantly want back. So the period ends, with a definite sense of deflation in the Dome! Never mind 20 minutes of hockey left!

Third Period: No goals in the third period but some fine end to end hockey again! By this time the ice at the Dome was pretty cut up, two intervals of on ice driving by our sponsor’s car’s certainly didn't help! The Phoenix really did throw everything at the Blaze, im pretty sure I saw the kitchen sink on the ice! Sadly it was not to be and the Blaze hung on for the win!

Verdict: A tough weekend for the Phoenix and a bit of a disappointing one! Null point is never a good weekend! It was a great game against the Blaze and one the served to show how far this seasons team has improved over last year! However it also showed that while we are good, we are not quite up to the standard of the top 4. In the end I think the Phoenix did themselves proud, however I did think we deserved a point at least! Another note, please Mr Hick’s stop reffing!!

Attendance: Not the best crowd in last night, id say around 1,100.

Manchester Evening News Article

Thursday, 8 January 2009

New Year Resolutions

So im a bit late with the whole new year resolution band wagon, but here are mine*!

1) Loose a bit of weight.
2) Buy an Alfa Romeo.
3) Buy a house.

There you go, faily simple but doable in 2009!

*subject to change!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Some fans are all the same!

Some of you may remember a post I did a while back where I went on a bit of a rant, it was my post in response to a couple of articles that appeared on the Nottingham Evening Post's website following the Panthers exit of the Challenge Cup. That post can be found here.

Today's post is sort of a mark 2 to that one, if you have a spare 20-30 mins go take a look at the thread on the cage forum, entitled Phoenix 4-2 Panthers Post Game Thread.

Many views are expressed, but its the view that some Panther fans have that no club outside the top 4 can challenge for a trophy! In my eyes that's complete boulderdash, there are 10 teams in the league that could win it! Each trophy could be won by any team in this league.

If you make it to the end of the thread, well done! It annoys me that many fans of the 'big' clubs have such a blinkered view of the league. Panther's lost to the better team last sunday, why will the majority of people on the Cage Forum not accept it? Plus if you look at the post game thread for the previous nights game against Coventry, just shows you how fickle they can be!

Anyway just a short rant today, hope your all ok out there!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Phoenix v Nottingham 04th January Game Review

So here we are 2009 and the first game of the new year for the Phoenix. Coming into this game vs the Panthers the Phoenix had been in action over in Belfast the previous evening. From what I have heard the Phoenix were not at their best and went down 3-1. Even though we lost its good to see the boys did not let Mr Lyle get a shut-out!

Anyway enough about that….onto the Panther game!

First Period: Very even first period with a fair few chances being created and both Robinson and Murphy were on top form keeping the scoreboard at 0-0. Sadly a goal did come in the first and it went to the Panthers. Cook slotted the puck home on 17min and 3sec to give the Panthers the lead. I did not panic however as the Panthers were good in the first but not out-of-sight!

Second Period: More or less a carbon copy of the first period, but with one major deviation from that script! Mr Beauregard was left alone on the far post (teams always seem to do that!) and none other than Mr Hand found him! Its now a 1-1 game! Oh forgot to mention that was a PPG, yes the Phoenix made a PP work!

Third Period: Again another even period (broken record anyone….?). This time it was the Panthers who scored the go ahead goal through Bergin at 43min 32sec. No need to panic with 16mins left still plenty of time to score. The Phoenix did indeed level-up the game at 47min and 9sec when it was the turn of Fulgham to feed Beauregard and on the second attempt Beau slotted the puck through the legs of Robinson. Cue ecstatic scenes in the stands! Must also mention this was another PPG!
Now it really was anyone’s game! Thankfully at 52min and 4 sec Clouthier powered down the boards and released an absolutely stonking shot, which Robinson did get a glove to but the power of the shot took the puck through his glove and into the net! 3-2 Phoenix!
The Phoenix called a timeout not long after a couple of long hard working shifts, to give the guys a break. Then with about 2mins left the Panthers called a timeout and pulled Robinson from the ice to give them a man advantage at the end. Thankfully the Phoenix and Smurf played hard, committed defence and with one second left Ward scored an empty netter to give the Phoenix a 4-2 win!

Verdict: Good away support for the Panthers, I remember arriving at the Dome and seeing hardly any Phoenix fans! The Panther fans filled maybe two and a half blocks! Not bad, and more than double the table topping Steelers brought back in December.
As for the game, well a bit of a must win for the Phoenix to avoid a pointless weekend! A difficult proposition against the Panthers who were looking for their own 4 point weekend!
In the end it was a great game between two very evenly matched teams, OK the Panthers were missing a couple of imports but even with them I don’t think the Panthers are that far ahead of the Phoenix!
A deserved win for the Phoenix plus an interesting few mins reading the reactions on the Cage Fourm. It seems despite our league placing and the win over them, many Panther fans still dismiss the Phoenix.
Its interesting to read fans of the so called ‘top’ clubs still dismissing our club, in the end it makes wins over them ever so sweet!

Attendance: Good crowd in the Dome last night, im guessing about 1,500 in, plus, as always at the Dome, a great atmosphere!

...and finally, I will start to add links to the local rag's review of Phoenix games in my own Game Review posts. So here we go, click here if you want to read the Manchester Online take on last nights game.