Just before I launch into my usual game review, I would like to extend my own personal thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Dave Page. For those of you who don't know Dave Page was the official photographer for the Nottingham Panthers. While I never knew him, it seems like he was a well loved figure in Nottingham and around the Elite League. It is always sad when someone so valuable is lost. For a great tribute to Dave head on over to The Cat's Whiskers and have a read of a tribute by Johno.
So a rare Saturday home game for the Phoenix, and a weekend with only one game for the Phoenix. Quite why we could not play the re-arranged Bison fixture to help alleviate the potential fixture pileup we now have! Anyway this was the Blaze’s last visit to the Dome for the season. The previous encounter saw the Phoenix record their first win over the Blaze for blumin ages! So hopes were relatively high for this encounter. As ever the Phoenix needed to be playing their A game, any less and we would get hammered!
First Period: Well the first 20mins just showed the gulf that truly exists between the Phoenix and the Blaze. Thoroughly outplayed in the first 20 saw the Blaze race to a 3-0 lead. Goals were scored at 11min 06sec, 13min 11sec and 17min 32sec, the scorers Deschatelets, Cowley and Hjalmarsson respectively. It was painful to watch as a Phoenix fan, this was defiantly a period that brought the Phoenix down to earth! The Blaze were in great form playing some great hockey, fast, flowing and raining shots down on Murphy in the Phoenix net.
Second Period: After the first 20mins the Phoenix must have been shell-shocked, however after the break a much more effective Phoenix emerged. Playing tighter and starting to nullify the Blaze attack the Phoenix finally got on the board at 35min 13sec through the big man Clouthier. This was a goal which showed what the Phoenix should have been doing all along! Get the puck on the net and send guys in to make things happen. A shot from the point, rebound and Brett was there to slot home the rebound. Id say that was an even period!
Third Period: Unfortunately the final 20mins was not to be, the Blaze turned on the class and with the Phoenix now playing their 7th game in 15 days fatigue began to set in. The Blaze got on the board first at 42min 55sec through a short handed goal from Calder. Sadly this really was the end for the Phoenix. Though not all hope had evaporated when at43min 39sec Clouthier appeared to deflect a shot from the point to bring the scores to 4-2. This goal was later adjusted to give it to Kenton Smith. Despite battling on the Phoenix were to concede two further goals at 53min 24sec and 55min 50sec, through Moore and Cowley respectively, This now had the scoreboard at 6-2 Blaze and a few Phoenix fans heading for the door!
Verdict: Tough game for the Phoenix, I think a couple of things, namely the schedule, playing the Blaze really came to a head. The Phoenix were only good enough for 20mins of this game and that, when against the Blaze, is not good enough! The difference in class was also on show, the Blaze were able to run 3 full strength lines and the Phoenix were not able to cope.
So a disappointing result, disappointing performance, I just hope our glut of fixtures in March does not have a detrimental affect on our season! We are now 4 points behind the Devils with 3 games in hand and 5th is defiantly a possibility! It’s the cup games im worried about, we cant win the league so a cup success is our only option. But with all the league games yet to play plus another 4 cup final games and Playoff Qualifiers to come, im worried the Phoenix will be too tired for any!
Attendance: Id say an average gate Saturday night, nothing special despite Sunday following this game. Good noise from the Blaze fans, id put the crowd at about 1,300.
Phoenix TV Highlights: