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.